Defined by Assistance Dogs International, “Assistance dogs not only provide a specific service to their handlers, but also greatly enhance the quality of their lives with a new sense of freedom and independence.” There are different categories of assistance dogs but they all have one true purpose: To provide enhanced mobility and independence to their owners and to allow their handler the opportunity to live with pride and self-reliance.
Common breeds for assistance dogs are Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, and Golden/Lab mixes. Let’s look at a few different types of assistance dogs to better understand how they help and how they love.
1. Guide Dogs
The Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind has a simple mission: to provide guide dogs and training – free of charge – to people who are blind, have low vision or with other special needs. For over six decades, they have promoted the independence, enhanced mobility, and companionship a guide dog brings to its handler. Guide dogs play a significant role to shape the lives of the blind or visually impaired by giving them increased confidence and ability.
Guide Dogs encourage owners to overcome visual obstacles in life by:
- Navigating their home environment
- Finding and following a clear path
- Maneuvering around obstacles, both on the ground and overhead
- Assisting with the use of public transportation
2. Service Dogs
Service Dogs assist people with disabilities other than vision or hearing impairment. With special training these dogs can help mitigate many different types of disabilities. They can be trained to work with people who use power or manual wheelchairs, have balance issues, have various types of autism, need seizure alert or response, need to be alerted to other medical issues like low blood sugar, or have psychiatric disabilities.
Service dogs help with everyday tasks such as:
- Retrieving dropped items
- Turning lights on and off
- Opening doors
- Pulling a wheelchair short distances and up inclines or ramps
Of the many organizations that train these service dogs, 4 Paws for Ability focuses on providing support to children in need worldwide.
3. Assistance Dogs for Veterans
As a non-for-profit organization based in Smithtown, New York, and a sister organization of the Guide Dogs Foundation, America's VetDogs® provides a wide variety of assistance dogs free of charge to help disabled veterans from all eras who have served our country honorably.
This organization trains dogs and the veteran’s they are assigned to in the following categories:
- Guide Dogs
- Service Dogs
- PTSD Service Dogs
- Hearing Dogs
- Military Facility Dogs
Bil-Jac is proud to be a partner with America’s VetDogs. When you purchase America’s VetDog’s Treats, you help make a difference to America’s military heroes. Learn more about these treats here.
America’s VetDogs® is a Registered Trademark used under License from America’s VetDogs® -- the Veteran’s K-9 Corps®, by Bil-Jac Foods, Inc.
Has a service dog made a difference in your life or the life of a loved one? Share your story with us in the comments below!