Covering Everything You Need To Know About Assistance/Service Dogs And The Week-Long Holiday That Celebrates Them
Dogs are absolutely beautiful creatures that make very loyal companions. Besides being faithful companions, dogs also serve very practical purposes such as being military working dogs, police dogs, search-and-rescue dogs, herding dogs, detection dogs, and assistance dogs (aka service dogs). The first Sunday of August marks the beginning of International Assistance Dog Week. This article will go over everything you need to know about International Assistance Dog Week and the importance of assistance dogs in human society.
How The Holiday Started
International Assistance Dog Week was originally established by Marcie Davis, a transformation agent, businesswoman, public speaker, thought leader, and assistance dog advocate. Marcie has been paraplegic for more than 40 years and has been partnered with service dogs for over 20 years. She is also the CEO of Davis innovations, a consulting firm in Santa Fe, NM.
Marcie has relied on assistance dogs to help her with day-to-day tasks for over 20 years. Assistance dogs have improved and enhanced her life for the better in ways few people could understand or appreciate. Her passion and appreciation for assistance dogs is so great that she established an entire week-long holiday to honor and celebrate them.
Why Have A Holiday About Assistance Dogs?
Assistance dogs play a vital role in helping people that have debilitating physical or mental disabilities. Assistance dogs are trained to fulfill a specific role and/or task that a disabled person could not do on their own. They don’t just improve people’s quality of life, they make living a normal life possible. We believe that’s something worth celebrating.
Different Types Of Assistance Dogs
There are many different types of assistance dogs, each of which is specifically trained to perform a certain task or purpose. We will briefly cover some of the common types of service dogs here along with a general description of the services they provide.
One of the most commonly-known types of assistance dogs is the guide dog. Guide dogs are trained to help blind and low-vision people navigate the world around them. They usually wear a special harness with a handle for their owner to hold. Some of the best breeds for guide dogs include golden retriever, Labradors, and German shepherds.
Another well-known type of service dog is the hearing dog. As the name implies, hearing dogs are specifically trained to assist people that are deaf or hard-of-hearing. Hearing dogs listen for specific cues, such as doorbells, alarms, phones, smoke alarms, or the owner’s name. They then alert their owner and lead them to the noise.
Hearing dogs are essential for blind or hard-of-hearing people as it allows them to live more independently and be more aware of their surroundings. Common breeds for hearing dogs include poodles, cocker spaniels, Labradors, and golden retrievers.
Mobility Assistance Dogs
Mobility assistance dogs are essential to people that have physical disabilities and are unable to move or get around in certain ways. This includes helping people with cerebral palsy, spinal cord injuries, brain injuries, and muscular dystrophy. They typically wear a specially designed harness that helps their owner get around easier. They can also retrieve objects, open doors, and help their owners move in or out of chairs and beds.
Common breeds of mobility assistance dogs include German shepherds, Labradors, poodles, and golden retrievers.
Psychiatric Service Dogs
Psychiatric service dogs are specifically trained to assist people that suffer from things like depression, anxiety, and PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). These dogs are able to sense when their owner is about to have an anxiety attack or flashback. Unlike therapy dogs or emotional support dogs, psychiatric dogs go through extensive training to help their owners deal with severe negative emotions and experiences. Common breeds of psychiatric service dogs include border collies, boxers, Dobermans, and king Charles Cavaliers.
Seizure Alert Dogs
As the name implies, seizure alert dogs assist their owners that are prone to seizures. They play a vital role in helping before, during, and after their owner has a seizure. A seizure alert dog will help their owner by using deep pressure treatment to end a seizure early, bring medicine to their owner, physically move their owner to a safe place while they are having a seizure, help them regain consciousness, and call 911 through a K-9 alert phone.
Common breeds for seizure alert dogs include German shepherds, border collies, poodles, and golden retrievers.
How You Can Observe
We encourage you to get involved with this wonderful week-long holiday that honors and celebrates assistance dogs. You can observe this holiday by spreading the word about International Assistance Dog Week on social media such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Be sure to use the handle #internationalassistancedogweek. The more people that know about it, the more people can celebrate it!
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