Friday, October 2, 2009

Canine Assistants

I always thought helper dogs were for blind or hearing impaired people. As I began to learn more about these dogs, I realized they also offered a variety of assistance to people with physical limitations.

Service dogs can be trained to retrieve objects that are out of reach, pull a manual wheelchairs, open doors and turn on lights, retrieve help, aid with dressing or undressing, and assist in many other ways. Some service dogs are specially trained seizure response dogs, and there are dogs trained to offer a person counter balance when ambulating. One less tangible benefit is that these dogs can actually expand your world by giving you opportunities to meet people and get out in the world.

This web site may help you find programs throughout the country:

When comparing the different programs consider the following:

  1. Does the organization offer to train your dog or does it train only their dogs?
  2. What kind of assistance is their service dogs trained to provide?
  3. Does the organization provide services only to a certain territory? You want to make sure you are in their service area.
  4. What are the costs to the recipient?
  5. Is there an age restriction? Some programs take children and adults and other limit how young the recipient can be.
  6. How long is the wait to get a dog?
  7. How long is the training camp for you with your dog?
  8. What are the costs to you for the camp? Some programs pay for training camp costs such as room and board and, others, leave these expenses up to the recipient.
  9. Is there support after the training camp?

Check out this inspirational video about service dogs:

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