My life was forever changed when I was matched with Makiko on March 3, 2013 at Guide Dogs for The Blind’s Oregon Campus. This week, International Assistance Dog Week, highlights how so many dogs across the world are helping their handlers to maintain their health, safety, independence, and freedom.
There are many types of assistance dog. Guide dogs are often the most well known. In recent years, psychiatric service dogs are gaining more awareness. There are many other types of assistance dogs- mobility service dogs, hearing service dogs, medical alert service dogs, autism service dogs, and seizure response dogs.
Many assistance dogs are program trained (from an organization that specifically trains them) but there are also many dogs that are owner trained or trained with a private trainer. It is important to remember that all are covered under the ADA as long as the dog is well trained and performs certain tasks to mitigate the handlers disability.
Please always remember that assistance dogs are often focused on keeping their handler safe and healthy and being their eyes, ears, reminder system, mobility device, etc. and distracting them could put their handlers life in danger and interfere with their ability to do their job and their training. You can always ask the handler if you want to pet but please accept if they say no.
Happy International Assistance Dog Week!