Assistance Dogs a big help
Assistance Dogs can come in many forms. While we have generally known assistance dogs to assist the blind, they can serve someone with some type of disability such as Cerebral Palsy, Muscular Dystrophy, Autism, Down syndrome; or even wounveterans.
What you want is a loyal friend that will enhance the quality of your life. People with disabilities might have trouble reaching a light switch, picking up a dropped pencil, or opening a door. Imagine having a dog that could do all of that, and more. When you get an assistance dog this is what they may do for you.
Skilled assistance dogs are trained to work with an adult or child with a disability under the guidance of a facilitator. The facilitator is typically a parent, spouse or caregiver who handles and cares for the assistance dog and encourages a strong bond between the recipient and the assistance dog. They are responsible for the customized training needs of the dog.
Assistance dogs are bred to be calm and reliable, along with specific training to help people with everyday needs in life. They help serve a social bridge to people who are not used to relating with a person with disabilities. Not only does this kind of assistance make their physical lives easier, it boosts confidence and feelings of self-sufficiency.
More recently assistance dogs have stepped into the forefront to be used with veterans with PTSD or other injuries where they need assistance to help them adjust to coming home. Additionally, the dogs are trained to help people with sleep apnea, heart issues, or hearing loss. I haven’t found anything these dogs are not capable of learning through the rigorous training program by some very dedicated people who love dogs and want to help their community.
Assistance dogs can be found here in Alaska in Wasilla with a group known as Alaska Assistance Dogs, which has provided dogs for many people in our area. It is my plan to interview the trainers at this facility and bring you more information, as I feel there is a need for these dogs in our community and for our veterans.