Is Howie A Speed Bump? When Assistance Dogs Have Multiple Personalities

By August 5, 2014ADW Stories

ADW’s client Michelle McMaster told this story to ADW’s director of administration, Liz:

My assistance dog, who goes by the name of Howie, has been diagnosed with a rare neurological disorder known as MPDFAD (multiple personality disorder for assistance dogs).

Howie regularly acts like a dog, assistance dog, pig, human, and a comatose speed bump Golden Retriever. Yeah, that’s right; I said Comatose Speed Bump Golden Retriever. You may ask yourself, “How can a Golden Retriever be comatose if he’s so playful?”  I know this sounds contradictory, but I totally swear it’s the truth; I spend 24 hours a day with Howie.

When he accompanies me through the University of New Mexico, Howie is a respectable, distinguished assistance dog but once I have him go under a desk in a classroom, that MPFAD kicks in. He immediately goes into his comatose speed bump phase.  The best example of this is when construction was going on outside my classroom and workers were jack hammering through concrete. The floor of the classroom began to vibrate and the noise was deafening, but Howie remained a comatose speed bump throughout. As the floor vibrated, Howie’s whole body began to vibrate as well, but he didn’t move; his eyes were closed tight and he just laid there, snoring softly. This is a classic symptom of MPDFAD.

Howie also likes to roll on the floor snorting like a pig, more evidence of his disorder. He often uses the living room floor as his napkin after eating each night; rubbing his face with both paws in a scrubbing motion and then wiping all remaining food particles on the carpet emulating the human behavior of cleanliness.  Wait, what’s that Howie…?   Oh, Howie says that he is not “emulating” human behavior because he is a human, not a service dog.

The final symptom that makes me positive Howie suffers from MPDFAD is his love of amusement park rides. A couple months ago, my family and I (Howie, too) went on vacation to SeaWorld.  Howie insisted that he go on the rides and when I told him dogs couldn’t go on rides, he reminded me he wasn’t a dog. So what could I do – I took him on the Pin Wheel (a type of Ferris Wheel) and Rio Loco (a water ride).

What “normal” Golden Retriever goes on amusement park rides? I don’t know any others, that’s for sure.  The only logical explanation for such behavior is MPDFAD.  Howie is a great success as my assistance dog, despite this disorder.  If you would like more information about this condition though, please contact Assistance Dogs of the West.

Michelle McMaster, Howie’s person