Eve & Ted Shelton 540-268-1331
August 2000


(adapted from Delta Society literature)

What is the difference between service animals/ service dogs, therapy animals, companion animals and "social" animals?

Service animals are legally defined (Americans With Disabilities Act, 1990) and are trained to meet the disability-related needs of their handlers who have disabilities. Federal laws protect the rights of individuals with disabilities to be accompanied by their service animals in public places. To be protected by federal law, the person must meet the definition of having a disability. To have the right of access with the animal to otherwise "no pets/animals" areas open to the public, the person must meet the definition of having a disability and the animal must meet the definition of service animal. Service animals/service dogs are not considered "pets."

Federal law does not legally define therapy animals, but some states have laws defining therapy animals. They provide people with contact to animals, but are not limited to working with people who have disabilities. They are usually the personal pets of their handlers, and work with their handlers to provide services to others. Federal laws have no provisions for people to be accompanied by therapy animals in places of public accommodation that have "no pets" policies. Therapy animals usually are not service animals.

Companion or social animals are not legally defined, but are accepted as other terms for pets.

What is a service animal?

The federal civil rights law, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA,1990), defines a service animal as any animalv individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of a person with a disability. Such tasks can include guiding a person with impaired vision, alerting a person with impaired hearing to the presence of people or sounds, pulling a wheelchair, retrieving dropped items, etc. Dogs are most frequently trained as service animals, but sometimes other animals do this work.

What is a disability?

The ADA defines a disability as any physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity such as caring for one's self, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, and working. Not all disabilities are visible.

Where do I get a service animal/service dog?

Organizations, independent trainers and handlers (the people with disabilities) can train service animals/service dogs. Some people prefer to work one-on-one with a private trainer; others like to acquire already- trained service animals/service dogs.

What is the price?

Trainer and acquisition fees may range from hundreds to thousands of dollars. Each supplier sets his or her own fees.

Do dogs that have been bred to become service dogs make better service dogs?

There is no published proof that "purpose bred" dogs make better service animals/service dogs. Variables that can affect the quality of any dog include the criteria used to select the dog, training methods, the dog's health and temperament, the dog's ability to perform the necessary tasks, the dog's ability to respond appropriately to the environment, and handler skills.

How long does it take to train a service dog?

Length of training time varies from trainer to trainer. Many trainers believe that it takes between six to twelve months of intensive training to produce a service dog. Reinforcement continues over the dog's lifetime and will be your responsibility. Some trainers train the animals, then bring them to you for an orientation program in your own home, neighborhood and workplace. Other trainers train the animals, then require you to go to their facilities for a period of time so that you can learn to work with the dog.


Eve & Ted Shelton 540-268-1331

Zorro’s Dynasty Method:
We train Chows for use as Service and/orTherapy dogs.

Why the Chow?

Chows have been used for thousands of years as worker dogs: guards, cart dogs, babysitters. They are exceptionally devoted to their humans, and will work ceaselessly to help their human. They are strong, durable dogs, with great longevity. Chows can generally serve as Therapy dogs or Service dogs for at least a decade.

Do dogs that have been bred to become service dogs make better service dogs?

We can definitely see a difference! Zorro’s Dynasty has bred and trained service/therapy dogs for 15 years, and we have developed lines of Chows with especially calm, stable and loving personalities. They are in use throughout Austria and now in America.

Where do I get such a Therapy Dog/service dog?

Whenever we have litters of pups, we carefully observe the personalities, and select certain ones as Therapy/Service Dog candidates. We don’t sell these for pets, or for show dogs. We keep them, and train them from the beginning for obedience. When they reach about one year of age, they are suitable to begin training with the person who will become their permanent daily user/handler/owner. We urge potential owners to visit the pups during this first year, to observe for compatibilities, personal preferences, etc.

What is the price?

The price of our obedience-trained dogs has to include not only the normal dog price, but also the cost of feeding it and providing medical care for it for the first year of life. The purchase of any of our Chows requires the Buyer to sign a standard contract, promising that you will care for the dog properly, never sell it without offering it back to us first, etc. The training of the owner and dog together to become Service dogs or Therapy dogs- costs $30 per hour, in our facility. Each one-hour session will involve about 30 minutes instruction, and 30 minutes personal contact with the dog. Sessions outside our facility require some negotiation on travel time, substitute staffers at our facility, monitoring of our own severely disabled family member.

How long does it take to train a Therapy or service dog?

This can vary, depending on the person, and the dog. A minimum figure would be 13 sessions, spread over 3 months, but certain requirements of the user/owner can cause the number of sessions together to increase to 26 or even 39. We train until both the user/owner and we are satisfied with the results.

For what types of tasks/duties have we trained our Chows?

Reaction dogs: To warn of, or respond to, impending seizures in epileptics, or low blood sugar episodes in diabetics.
Guide dogs: To assist blind or deaf people to respond more appropriately to the world about them; to guard against unseen traffic, or obstacles, or to alert for unheard phones, buzzers, chimes, etc.
Wheelchair dogs: To pull a person in his/her wheelchair; to open doors; to bring specified objects; to assist the person in/out of the wheelchair.

Our Credentials:

Our Trainer is a member of Delta Society, the American Therapy and Service Dog association. She is certified as a permanent staff member of the Therapy/Service Dog Institute of Vienna Veterinarian University. She moved to the US in 1999, and is continuing her work here. Her daughter’s 9-year-old Service Dog flew in the cabin of the airliners, with the daughter and her wheelchair, from Austria, through Paris, to Dulles International without any problems, even though this was the first flight for either dog or daughter.

-Ted Shelton

-Fortunate and rare is he who hears the snoring ChowChow-




Click to enlarge the following images!

wheelchair training in the fields

training at Vienna Veterinarian University

the "TAT Graduation Day"!

one of the newspaper articles in Austria

Daisy as adult Reaction Dog and her son Sultan in action

Jessie and her kids have also passed the training and tests and are working
with the wheelchair and mentally disabled kids in Austria and the USA