New Rules for Service Animals and the ADA

September 22, 2010

New Rules for Service Animals and the ADA

The Department of Justice is muddying the waters of the disabled and the use of service animals in the new definitions for what a service animal must be. In the past people have used animals of all types. Everything from a gerbil to a donkey for a wide range of disabilities including mobility, psychiatric, seizure alert, diabetic and hearing dogs.

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

New Service Animal definition injures the disabled

Our current definition for service animal under the ADA is, “Service animal means any guide dog, signal dog, *or other animal* individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including, but not limited to, guiding individuals with impaired vision, alerting individuals with impaired hearing to intruders or sounds, providing minimal protection or rescue work, pulling a wheelchair, or fetching dropped items.”

The new definition is, “Service animal means any *dog* that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability. Other species of animals, whether wild or domestic, trained or untrained, are not service animals for the purposes of this definition. The work or tasks performed by a service animal must be directly related to the handler’s disability. Examples of work or tasks include, but are not limited to, assisting individuals who are blind or have low vision with navigation and other tasks, alerting individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing to the presence of people or sounds, providing non-violent protection or rescue work, pulling a wheelchair, assisting an individual during a seizure, alerting individuals to the presence of allergens, retrieving items such as medicine or the telephone, providing physical support and assistance with balance and stability to individuals with mobility disabilities, and helping persons with psychiatric and neurological disabilities by preventing or interrupting impulsive or destructive behaviors. The crime deterrent effects of an animal’s presence and the provision of emotional support, well-being, comfort, or companionship do not constitute work or tasks for the purposes of this definition.”

I, for one, agree with the definition that service animals should just be DOGS. I would love to have your thoughts on the subject as I am sure there are many opinions out there.

I welcome your comments and concerns. Please comment below.

Robert Forto | Team Ineka | Alaska Dog Works | Mushing Radio | Dog Doctor Radio | Denver Dog Works


Dr. Robert Forto the training director for Dog Works Training Centers, is a musher training for his first Iditarod under the Team Ineka banner and the host of the popular radio shows, Mush! You Huskies and The Dog Doctor Radio Show


Every Dog Has Its Day- Part 7

September 12, 2010

Every Dog Has Its Day- Toby the Service Dog

“Every dog has its day dog, when the big dog throws him a bone. One moment in the sunshine, when your ducks line up in a row.” – Toby Keith –

Since Toby has been home he has been participating in private training classes as well as Canine Good Citizen group classes.  Toby is working with his handler, Shauna and has been taken on many field trips.

Shauna took Toby to the mountains where he behaved like a 6 month old puppy but remembered he did need to perform his commands and do his job.   She has taken him on short trips to the grocery store and other shopping excursions.  There are times when he is less well behaved than others.  This is too be expected due to his age.

Toby technically is practicing and learning to be a great psychiatric service dog.  He is performing his job far beyond other dogs his age.  Toby already grasps and understands his purpose – and is teaching his handler how he communicates and recognizes her highs and lows and is alerting her to those situations and she is beginning to recognize that sometimes when she has thought Toby was misbehaving he was really trying to distract her from her own thoughts.

Toby will be doing his last private class for sometime as we are advancing him to public access training.

Stayed tune for more about Toby and thank you for your continued loyalty following his story.


Michele Forto is the Denver Dog Training Examiner, the owner of Denver Dog Works and the co-host of the Dog Doctor Radio Show.

Pet Adoption Month

September 11, 2010

Pet Adoption Month

October is Pet Adoption Month.  In the Denver area, several Petsmart locations as well as the Denver Dumb Friends League, and local county animal shelters and the humane society will be hosting events and awareness of pet adoption.

Denver Dog Works is a training center who reportedly receives several clients who have recently adopted a pet and wish to continue training, begin training, or help their new dog with behavioral issues to enhance their health and lifestyle.

Every fall Denver Dog Works offers a special on their private training classes and group classes. This fall is no exception.  From September 15 through November 15, 2010, set up an evaluation with Michele and let her know that you have recently adopted your pet, bring in your adoption papers and she will tailor a training package to meet your needs and enhance your newest family members life.  Proof of adoption between August 15, 2010 and November 15, 2010 will earn you a specialized package and 25% off of the normal price of that package.  Contact Michele for more details at 303-578-9881 or, or and schedule your free evaluation today.

Every pet deserves a second chance, even a third chance, go one step further and ensure that your new pet has the best life possible, train him, give him a routine, and watch him become the best dog you’ve ever had.  Denver Dog Works: We have the best and train the rest!


Michele Forto is the Denver Dog Training Examiner, the owner of Denver Dog Works and the co-host of the Dog Doctor Radio Show.

The Adventures of Alaric-Part 9

September 10, 2010

Adventures of Alaric 9

Alaric’s path has changed. Alaric is no longer needed by his handler and has been returned to Denver Dog Works after just 4 short months of working virtually part-time.

Alaric has a few issues; he has a fear of other dogs and he gets very excited to receive attention from people.  His fear of other dogs is being worked on under the advisement of Dr. Robert Forto, Ph.D. and he is being taught techniques for more acceptable greeting practices.

Alaric is a wonderful dog who understands his job and performs it quite well.  He is energetic and carefree and will encourage his owners to get out and play often.

Alaric has interviewed with another lady with depression and he came on a bit strong at first but calmed down and warmed up to her quickly.  We went on a walk and Alaric showed interest in her and made sure she was okay by checking on her and he noticed people around us and pricked his ears up and watched two individuals closely – this is part of his training – check out the surroundings and make sure his handler feels safe.

It will take several training sessions with this handler to develop into a solid team.  You see Alaric has all of the necessary training he just needs a handler prepared to understand him and love him so that he can show what he can do.

Alaric will never be a working dog who enjoys playing at the dog park, it’s not his style.  He will be cautious and protective over his handler and will choose to be with one person over a group any day.  Let’s all remember that Alaric is a German Shepherd and this breed is highly excitable and highly protective by instinct, and loyal to their owners.  He will perform his job well with understanding by his owner of his personality and breed disposition.


Michele Forto is the Denver Dog Training Examiner, the owner of Denver Dog Works and the co-host of the Dog Doctor Radio Show.

Never Forget Your Dreams

September 7, 2010

Never Forget Your Dreams

About a decade ago unbeknown to me dogs would change my life.  At the time I owned two Alaskan Malamutes and I was recently widowed and newly a single mother of three very young children.  My Malamute’s were just pets – great pets, who loved my children and wanted nothing more than to be by their side.

My good friend who just so happened to run Siberian Huskies in mid-distance dog sled races, which I knew nothing about, decided to come to Colorado and give Sprint mushing a try and to expand his kennel, Trafalgar K9.  I knew a little bit about training and a little bit about breeding dogs, I knew nothing about harnessing, lining out, or dog sledding at all.

Within two months Robert and I had gathered about a dozen ragamuffin Siberian Huskies who had been in harness but let’s just say were not quite third string team members.  Robert showed the kids and I a whole new world.  We did things that we had never done before.

Never Forget Your Dreams – was discovered by us one day while traveling to a dogsled race in South Dakota – it has become our families motto and we have given countless people the opportunity to find and follow their dreams through training their dogs to be the best they can be.

After a decade of waiting and growing together as a family – Robert is finally getting back on track and following his dream.  While Robert prepares for running the Iditarod in 2013 – I am reminded that he originally was preparing to run the last great race in 2003.  He has patiently waited while our children have grown and while I’ve taken myself down a different career path just to return to the dogs.

I am very proud of my best friend for never forgetting his dream and more importantly for standing by my side while I developed my own dreams.


Michele Forto is the Denver Dog Training Examiner, the owner of Denver Dog Works and the co-host of the Dog Doctor Radio Show

Boulder County Fire

September 6, 2010

Boulder County Fire

In light of the recent fire, I’d like to remind you to prepare an emergency evacuation plan for your pets and/or livestock.  In times like this moving quickly is key. I have submitted articles in the past about the importance of having an emergency preparedness plan for your pets.

Remember to have water, food, and any necessary medications handy and ready to go.  Also, keep a airline rated crated nearby as this can assist in keeping your pet safe in an emergency.  Keep your pets records and identification in a water proof container secured to his crate and have a copy for yourself.

Evacuation centers have been set up at the North Boulder Recreation Center, the Nederland Community Center and New Vista High School in Boulder. The Boulder County Fairgrounds is set up to accept large animals that were evacuated and the Longmont Humane Society is also taking in some animals. Courtesy of KUNC


Michele Forto is the Denver Dog Training Examiner, the owner of Denver Dog Works and the co-host of the Dog Doctor Radio Show.

Fido, Get in Shape!

September 3, 2010

Fido, Get in Shape!

Every autumn Denver Dog Works offers a wonderful training class.  It’s a spinoff of their regular full eight week obedience lessons with group class downsized for busy families and the budget minded.

Fido needs to go back to school along with the kids why not give Denver Dog Works a try and enroll him in a four week course to get Fido back on track from a relaxing summer vacation.

Here’s how it works; give Michele a call and explain two or three things that you’d like to work on with Fido and she will pair you with an appropriate trainer to address your requests and to match your scheduling needs.  You will be given four classes and once finished you will receive a recommendation for further classes or be given the opportunity to take an obedience test. Classes are available every weeknight at the training center which boasts an 800-square foot rubber training floor making training comfortable for both you and Fido after a long day at work.

An example request; Fido pulls on the leash and lunges when we approach people and people with dogs, can you help?  Of course, we can help your training will include outdoor leash work with controlled situations with other dogs and people.

Remember these classes are designed to deal with a couple of your specific complaints, it’s not a full obedience course, but if you are interested in a full obedience course Michele can make that happen for you as well.

Fido Get In Shape!  classes are cost affective!  You will meet for one hour for four weeks consecutively for just $175.00.  You are getting specialized training to address manners, obedience, and/or mild behavior modification.  Contact Michele today – space is limited and reserve your spot.  Fido Get In Shape! registration goes from September 1 – November 15, 2010. Michele can be reached at 303-578-9881 or via email and as always you can visit her website at


Michele Forto is the Denver Dog Training Examiner, the owner of Denver Dog Works and the co-host of the popular Dog Doctor Radio Show