Tuesday, August 5, 2014

It is International Assistance Dog Week

Some assistance dogs help with housework
August 3 through August 9 is a very special week - it has been dedicated to Assistance Dogs all around the world. The idea is to celebrate all these hard working and devoted dogs that change and save people's lives every day. 

The goals of the week include honoring and recognizing assistance dogs, raising awareness and educating the general public about assistance dogs, honoring trainers, and of course recognizing heroic deeds performed by assistance dogs.

These fantastic dogs are trained to do everything from calling 911 in case of emergency to guiding a vision impaired handler through traffic. They hear alarms, alert for medical conditions and seizures, fetch items, open and close doors, provide balance, pull wheelchairs, alert for blood sugar problems, and do household chores.

At the core of all this, they offer independence, dignity, and hope. Assistance dogs often make the difference between leading an isolated life and being able to be active.

Many think all assistance dogs are Labradors or Golden Retrievers. These breeds are amongst the most popular, but virtually all breeds are represented, including mixed breeds rescued from shelters. The suitable size depends on the job to be done, and on the handler. A tall handler needing help with balance needs a bigger dog than a smaller person needing help with the same thing.

When you meet a working dog, it's important to leave him or her alone to do their job. They're not there to be petted or talked to. Assistance dogs have the right to follow their humans to all places open to the public, and this includes restaurants and shops. Inconveniences such as allergies are not sufficient cause to turn the dog away. An assistance dog may or may not wear a vest - it's not mandatory.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

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