Assistance dogs are not magicians. But seen and unseen they transform the lives of the human partners they serve. They make “getting through the day” that much easier. To recognize the special skills of service dogs and how they make a difference, the first week in August is set aside for International Assistance Dog Week (August 1-7, 2021).
An assistance dog is a companion, helper, aide, best friend, and close member of the family.
But International Assistance Dog Week is also meant to honor the trainers too. Don’t forget the trainers. It takes skill and patience to put these dogs through their paces. Trainers put in a lot of hours. This week is a thumbs up to all the trainers in the US, UK, and the rest of the world who do such important work.
Be on the lookout for activities in your community. Or organize your own! You can find a list of suggested events posted on the International Assistance Dog Week website.
Most people have seen or heard of Guide Dogs. Not as many people are aware of the other types of assistance dogs that are available to serve people in need.
These dogs assist people with vision loss. They lead individuals around physical obstacles and to destinations such as crossing streets, entering or exiting doorways, elevators, and stairways.
Hearing Alert Dogs
These canines assist people with hearing loss by alerting them to the presence of specific sounds. These can be the everyday noises such as doorbells, knocks at the door, telephones, crying babies, and sirens. But also to the special sounds such as sensors, smoke, fire, and clock alarms.
Medical Alert/Medical Response Dogs
These dogs respond to any oncoming medical conditions of the human partners. These can include a heart attack, stroke, diabetes, epilepsy, panic attack, anxiety attack, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
These canines assist people with disabilities in multiple life situations. You may have seen these dogs helping people with walking, balance, transferring from place to place, retrieving and carrying items, and opening doors. Possibly not seen but just as important, these dogs help with dressing, pushing buttons, pulling wheelchairs, and aiding with household chores, such as putting in and removing clothes from the washer and dryer.
Seizure Alert/Seizure Response Dogs
These dogs respond to medical conditions, such as heart attack, stroke, diabetes, epilepsy, panic attack, anxiety attack, post-traumatic stress, and seizures.
The Restaurant Question
There is one other point to discuss about assistance dogs that always comes up. Are they allowed in restaurants or businesses where management restricts pets from entering?
State law and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) guarantee equal access to any and all establishments and accommodations. Although some unscrupulous business owners might try to get away with it, no extra charge can be levied because of the dog.
Without them, the person they are assisting most likely would not be able to go out there. Merchants should be thanking the dog for the business it brings in.
Want more information about Assistance Dogs? Go to these websites:
- International Assistance Dog Week
- Working Like Dogs
- Assistance Dogs International
- International Association of Assistance Dog Partners
(What type of content should your business website blog offer? Advice rather than product promotion. Be a valuable info resource rather than an irritating source of sales pitches. For example, if you owned a pet shop or veterinary practice, then you might share this type of content. Contact me if interested.)