The benefits that service dogs provide for people with disabilities can span a lifetime. These indescribable relationships extend far beyond that of a pet and owner, relating more to that of a close friend or family member. For most, a furry companion can mean added layers of autonomy in the many benefits and support these pups have to offer.
Look What My Dog Can Do
A specially trained dog can assist someone with a disability in tasks they may not be able to complete or have trouble doing without assistance. Service dogs are able to retrieve dropped items, answer the door, turn on and off lights, can act as a guardian, bring you medicine or help you with physical therapy by throwing a ball or playing tug of war games.
On top of all this, man’s (or woman’s) best friend can help you transfer from your wheelchair to your bed or couch by standing or bracing for stability.
Aside from their physical benefits, service dogs offer emotional and psychological support to people with disabilities. The company of these pups can be therapeutic, their calm, affectionate nature providing a comfortable environment.
Further, assistance dogs relieve people with disabilities of needing help with many daily tasks, thereby boosting confidence and feelings of self-sufficiency. Dogs remind us to find joy in the simplest of things and to live everyday to the fullest.
Job Requirements and Training
Adopting a service animal is a big decision and requires a special application and training process. Most assistance dog organizations require a thorough application, in-person interviews and extensive review of candidates.
Additionally, once approved through the application round, these organizations often have the dog’s primary caregiver (along with a facilitator in some cases) attend a one to two week training course during which they meet their potential service dog, receive training on how to care for him or her and ensure that the two are a good match. It’s important to note that while some adoption centers have locations nationwide, others may ask that you travel to their headquarters.
If you are ready to learn more about the benefits of a service dog and begin the search for your perfect companion, check out the following organizations:
- NEADS (National Education for Assistance Dog Services)
- Canine Companions for Independence
- Freedom Service Dogs of America
The National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association (NMEDA) is an advocate for mobility and accessibility for drivers with disabilities. If you need help with converting or buying a handicap accessible car, truck or van, please consider one of our Quality Assurance Program mobility equipment dealers. Find a dealer near you: www.nmeda.com/dealerlocator