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With Dottie, I have My Life Back
Service dogs can increase independence by reducing reliance
on other people

By Suzanne Ponciroli

(Page 1 of 3)  

I always thought helper dogs were for blind or hearing impaired people. As I began to learn more about these dogs, I realized they also offered a variety of assistance to people with physical limitations.

Service dogs can be trained to retrieve objects that are out of reach; pull a manual wheelchairs; open doors and turn on lights; retrieve help; assisting with dressing or undressing; and assist in many other ways. Some service dogs are specially trained seizure response dogs and there are dogs trained to offer a person counter balance when ambulating. One less tangible benefit is that these dogs can actually expand your world by giving you opportunities to meet people and get out in the world. 

My service dog, Dottie, and I take walks around the neighborhood every evening.  Each evening, between 5:00 and 6:00, she brings me her leach wanting to take a walk. (Unfortunately, rain presents a problem. Try to convince a dog that you canít go for a walk because it is raining.) We never come home that we have not socialized with people we encountered. Interactions are usually prompted by Dottie and then switch to me.

How Do I Get a Service Dog?

There are various programs throughout the country. Some programs serve only a particular region and others do not have a defined territory. Costs vary; as do lengths of waiting lists. To help you assess if a program meets your needs, here are some questions to consider when choosing a service dog program:

  • Does the organization offer to train your dog or does it train only their dogs?

  • What kind of assistance is their service dogs trained to provide?

  • Does the organization provide services only to a certain territory? 
    You want to make sure you are in their service area.

  • What are the costs to the recipient?


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