Dogs have been man’s best friend since the beginning. They offer great companionship and are fun to have around. Their loyalty is insurmountable.
People with disabilities use service dogs as caregivers. These are special types of dogs which are also known as Mobility Assistance Dogs.
Service Dogs For Physical Support
These are specially trained dogs that assist people with disabilities in tasks that they may not be able to complete by themselves or have trouble performing without assistance.
These four-legged caregivers perform tasks such as opening/closing doors, turning lights on/off, retrieving dropped items, bringing a ringing phone, hitting elevator buttons, opening drawers and cabinets, providing emotional and spiritual support, among others.
They can even help pull up your manual wheelchair up inclines and ramps and even push it for short distances. They will bring medicine or other medical equipment by opening drawers and cabinets. If undressing is a problem, a service dog can assist with undressing by pulling your clothing.
They also become therapy dogs for elderly and have seen great benefit for people with Alzheimer's and Dementia. Animal assisted therapies have been very sucessful in lessening the burden of a sickness.
For people with vision problems, service dogs can guide them while walking down the streets. They are able to remove dangerous items out of the way for someone having an epileptic seizure and even support someone who falls or loses balance easily.
They are even trained to help individuals with hearing impairment in tasks such as answering doorbells, alarm clocks, and identifying potentially life-threatening sounds such as smoke alarms.
Heck, they keep strangers from coming too close while in the outdoors, making them feel safer.
Service dogs are clearly incredible assets for people with disabilities. They eliminate the need to depend on people to help with daily tasks, thereby boosting their feelings of self-sufficiency, confidence, and self-esteem.
It’s for these reasons that these caregiver dogs are even allowed to go in most public places like buses, trains, restaurants, airplanes, shopping malls, grocery stores, sports events, and many more.
Service Dogs and Emotional Support
Besides offering incredible physical benefits, service dogs also offer emotional and psychological support to people with disabilities or elderly.
The entire aspect of having a disability can be overwhelming especially because making friends can become a difficult task. It’s almost impossible to get out and have fun while confined to a wheelchair. This makes them feel insufficient with an overwhelming need for companionship.
Just like a regular pet, they become companion dogs and offer exceptional emotional and psychological support to their owners. They help people feel much better by giving friendship and solid companionship.
That’s why they are sometimes referred to as comfort or support dogs. Their company alone is enough to boost their owner’s mood and self-esteem, thanks to their calm, therapeutic, fun, and affectionate nature. For example, individuals suffering from mental illnesses such as stress, depression, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), including others can greatly benefit from having a service dog as caregiver.
They help bring out the feelings of love. They make great playmates and are a good reason to spend time outdoors and even get opportunities to meet new people.
While service dogs are able to offer emotional support naturally, there are those that are specifically trained for the purpose. They are known as emotional support dogs. They are a great choice for people suffering from mental illnesses. So how does a service dog qualify to offer assistance to people with disabilities?
A service dog is not a regular dog. This is a dog that has undergone extensive special training, just like security dogs. The dog is trained to do things that are different from the natural dog behavior, perform things that the owner cannot do because of disability, and learn to work with the owner in ways that help manage his/her disability.
Adopting a Service Dog
If you have a disability or an elderly, and want to adopt a service dog, there are a few things you should know. It’s usually an extensive process and requires a special application. It’s not like you are buying a regular pet dog.
First, you as the owner-to-be is required to undergo a one to two weeks training course. During the training, you will meet the potential service dog and receive extensive training on how to handle and care for him.
The vetting process will also confirm whether you and the dog are a good match.
There are many service dog adoption centers in the country so you can simply contact a reputable one and submit your request. As a general rule, only get a service dog if you are confident it has been properly trained and can be able to offer the kind of assistance you need depending on your disability.