In May I discovered a children’s book titled Tuesday Tucks Me In by Luis Carlos Montalván. After learning about service dogs and the relationship that Luis and Tuesday developed, I wanted to learn more. I went on to read every book I could find regarding Luis and Tuesday and learned all about how important service dogs are to our wounded veterans, veterans living with PTSD, people with physical disabilities, and even children with autism. If you’d like to see my original posts regarding these books which include videos and many pictures of Luis and Tuesday, you can find them by clicking the links below.
In the book Until Tuesday, Luis discusses where Tuesday came from and explains a little bit about Lu Picard, the co-founder of ECAD, where Tuesday was trained. Lu Picard was kind enough to answer some of my questions regarding ECAD, and a few regarding Luis and Tuesday. I’ve included some information about ECAD below as well as my Q&A with Lu Picard and hope that everyone will enjoy reading and learning more about it.
What is ECAD?
ECAD stands for Educated Canines Assisting Disabilities and is a non-profit organization founded by Lu and Dale Picard. ECAD provides highly skilled Service Dogs to assist people living with disabilities.
How did ECAD get started?
After Lu Picard’s father suffered from a stroke, she discovered how she could train their family dog to help her father become independent again and more like himself. She decided that this was what she wanted to do: train service dogs for those that needed them. She started ECAD in 1995 and a year later her husband became involved full-time as well. They now have training facilities in Connecticut and New York.
Here are two amazing videos from Marlo Thomas on her “The Hero Next Door” series which highlights Lu Picard’s story and gives viewers an idea of some of the training that goes on at ECAD and also how Lu Picard has helped children with disabilities get involved with training dogs.
Continue Reading for the Q&A!
My Q&A with Lu Picard
Q: How old is ECAD?
A: 22 yrs old
Q: Are you an accredited organization? If so, what do you have to do to get accredited?
A: Yes we are and have been since 2003. Accreditation is a very involved process that involves policies and procedures for every part of your business. This entails the financial, the client care, and training of the dogs. Along with employee and a business plan. It took us just about 3 months to prepare for it the first time and that was after being in business for 8 years.
A: We are funded thru public donations, fee for service, and grants.
Q: It seems like such a arduous task to take on. How did you gain the knowledge to train service dogs?
A: I had been training a pet dog for roughly 5 years prior to starting ECAD.
Q: Do you manage all the puppy breeding yourself?
A: Me and my husband. Breeding is something a person must be comfortable with as well as a person that can stay calm in stressful situations.
Q: At what age do the puppies start their training?
A: ECAD begins preparing the pups while they are still in the whelping box. The formal teaching begins at 8 weeks old.
Q: Are your service dogs typically Golden Retrievers? What makes this an ideal breed for service dogs and are any other breeds used?
A: Our dogs are retrievers, Labs and Goldens. 90% of a service dogs work is retrieving, tugging, and carrying and retrievers are the most successful breed overall.
Q: When reading Tuesday’s Promise, readers learn that Promise comes from the same blood lines as Tuesday. How do you choose which dogs to use for breeding and are these dogs trained as service dogs first?
A: All ECAD dogs are trained first then we pick our breeders from this group.
Here’s a LIVE cam viewing of a litter of ECAD’s pups.
Q: What inspired you to start the inmate puppy program?
A: ECAD has been working with at risk youth for 20 years. I saw and experienced the benefits given to the children society had given up on. We were contacted by the prison and asked to bring our program there.
Q: Do you find that most of the inmates are interested in training the puppies and what qualities do you look for in a trainer?
A: Not all inmates can be involved in the program. The prison gives a list to choose from, we interview and choose same as you would when hiring an employee.
Q: Do some of the inmates train more than one puppy, or do you move on to other inmate trainers?
A: All the inmates in the program train various dogs.
Q: When reading Until Tuesday, Luis discusses the pain that Tuesday endured after losing someone in the inmate program. Is this something that all the dogs experience at one point or another when leaving their trainers?
A: Tuesday had a longer adjustment period then the others when he left ECAD at 13 weeks and entered the prison program. Most dogs adjust within 3 days.
Q: Luis and Tuesday had a special relationship, is this something common or do some dogs bond more than others, like Tuesday?
A: Service dogs bond tighter than pet dogs in most cases because the service dog is with its person 24/7. Most pets are alone all day and get 3 to 4 hours with their person engaging them.
Here’s a video of Luis and Tuesday for those who haven’t learned about him yet. Luis also discusses the prison puppy program. This has to be one of my most favorite videos with Luis and Tuesday.
Q: I’ve had many dogs throughout my life and all of them have had such different personalities. Are there any dogs in your litters that you simply can’t use because they are too hyper or maybe not focused enough? If so, where do these dogs go?
A: Dogs that are not suitable are sold for $2000 and up.
Q: What are some of the things you look for in a potential service dog?
A: Willingness, drive to work, calm, and good health.
Q: How does a person qualify for a service dog?
A: They complete an application and based on this info we can tell if we can train a dog for them and supply proper follow up care.
Q: Roughly how much time does a veteran or person in need spend with you when meeting their potential service dog?
A: Our interviews take approx. 3 to 4 hours
Q: I was amazed when reading about Luis and Tuesday and how Tuesday would help Luis with his panic attacks. How do you train the dogs to help with anxiety and how do they learn to monitor human heart rate?
A: Just like any task it takes repetition, motivation, and reward. Since the dogs stay with us until they are ready to be placed, this allows us to really understand our dogs and know which dog will be able to do which job.
Q: After reading Tuesday’s Promise, readers learn that Tuesday will soon retire as a therapy dog. What exactly is a therapy dog and what are their responsibilities? Who are they paired with?
A: Therapy dogs are dogs whose job is to give and receive love. They do not have public access.
Q: How is it determined when a service dog’s time has come to retire? Is it specific to age, or how they are performing at the time?
A: This is determined by ECAD and the client. It is based on the dog’s abilities and health.
Q: I was very intrigued after reading that some of your service dogs are trained for children with autism. How do these service dogs help children with autism?
A: These dogs assist a child with autism in areas of social, emotional, and cognitive development, but the dog’s primary duty is to increase the child’s physical safety by “anchoring.”
Q: I was shocked to learn about Luis committing suicide. At any point did you suspect that Luis would take his life?
Q: Obviously Tuesday was effected with the loss of his best friend Luis. How long did it take Tuesday to adjust with the loss of him.
A: Tuesday does not know Luis has passed and since he was already very comfortable with me there was no depression or stress caused by Luis’s passing. I see it more as flashback when Tuesday and I go to a hotel and he gets very excited. He has then looked around thinking Luis would be there. But even this passed quickly for Tuesday. I was upset longer that day.
For those that would like to see how Tuesday is doing, please check ECAD’s Facebook page where every Tuesday you will find updates regarding Tuesday and what he’s doing now.
Q: Have their been other situations in which dogs have lost their veteran owners or people in need?
A: Yes, some of our clients have passed on before the dog.
Q: With the “Home for the Weekend” program, what is required of people who would like to participate in caring for these part time dogs in their homes and how many weekends will they stay? Do they stay with the same family?
A: It is a minimum 6 month commitment for the family but the dog stays only on weekends and they’re brought back to ECAD during the weekdays.
Q: How can people get involved with ECAD?
A: Go to the ECAD website and search out volunteering. People that are not close enough to take a pup can also volunteer to help thru the internet, or organize a fundraiser.
Q: Is there anything else that you’d like to add?
A: Yes, it is important for people to know not every dog can be a service dog, but every service dog must be trained and proofed. No dog is born a guide dog, service dog, or hearing dog.
I’d like to thank Lu Picard for taking time out of her busy schedule to answer my questions regarding ECAD.
You can learn more about ECAD by visiting their website
Don’t forget to visit ECAD’s Facebook page by CLICKING HERE.
“Tuesday’s Celebration of Life For His Best Friend, Captain Luis Montalvan” – From ECADServiceDog on YouTube.