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Who Can Service Dogs Help?? 15 July 08

Posted by turtlemom3 in Partnership, Service Dogs, Tasks.
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For months now, I’ve been blithely writing about service dogs and how my Woof will help me when it gets here. But a friend asked me (in person, rather than commenting on this site) what service dogs really can do for people.

Wow! I was stumped for a minute – not to explain to her what a service dog CAN do, but to not “over do” my enthusiasm!

According to the Delta Society “Service dogs are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability.”

We tend to think in terms of service dogs doing specific tasks – in my case, picking up my cane when I drop it, providing balance, dragging the laundry basket through the house. But there is this to consider, also – will taking care of the service dog use up too much of my all-too-minimal energy stores? OR, will the service dog actually help conserve my energy by performing some of the tasks that take a lot of my energy to do?

A service dog may help a person who is quite immobile to get more physical exercise and thereby increase their stamina. For some people, the service dog would provide a distraction from focusing on their pain and disability – they may find it easier to be more social. The service dog also can reduce the concerns of his partner’s family members and close friends in terms of worrying about safety issues and the well-being of his partner. After all, his partner may be eating better because the service dog is carrying the food from the refrigerator for him!

So it isn’t “just” the business of leading a visually impaired person around objects, or alerting someone with hearing deficits to the sounds of the telephone ringing or the doorbell ringing, or someone coming up behind her or calling her name. It isn’t “just” pulling a laundry basket from room to room or picking up objects and putting them in drawers or in the trash. It is a relationship, companionship, friendship.

Any person with a physical or mention problem that limits their life activities in a major way might be a candidate for a service dog. But some people might not be candidates. If caring for the service dog will be too strenuous, and there is no one to help, then a service dog may not be a good choice. A pet cat or other small animal that requires less grooming for maintaining command proficiency and for going out into the community may be a better choice.

For me, a service dog is the best answer, and I’m working very hard to find ways to raise funds without wiping out my stamina!

So that’s what I told my friend. And now I’ve told you! Any questions??

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Comments»

1. Jennifer - 20 July 08

You hit on a key point which isn’t said in many other places. That is your service dog also becomes part of you, an extension of you. Your service animal may even be there for you even during times when your significant can not be. Companionship is one of the most important parts of using an assistance animal.

2. turtlemom3 - 22 July 08

Yes, companionship is a big part of it. I will be under much less stress when “Woof” is here and the Ol’ Curmudgeon has to go out of town. Not because Woof would protect me. Service dogs are not trained to attack or to protect. But rather just because there is “someone else” here with me. And Magnus the Magnifi-cat just doesn’t quite qualify in that regard. Half the time he is sleeping in a drawer or in a box somewhere. But Woof will be beside me. Yes, that’s it. Woof will be beside me. My companion, my friend, my helper, my assistant, my happy-camper, my anti-depressant – all in one.

3. What Do you Do if You Think You Might Benefit From A Service Dog | Time To Train Your Dog - 22 March 11

[…] Who Can Service Dogs Help?? (waitingforthewoof.wordpress.com) […]


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