Truly Man’s Best Friend: Assistance Dogs Honored During International Events
International Assistance Dog Week (IADQ) was created to recognize all of the devoted, hard-working assistance dogs helping individuals with disabilities and limitations in daily activities. The week was established due to the efforts of Marcie Davis, CEO of Davis Innovations, author of “Working Like Dogs: The Service Dog Guidebook”, and a paraplegic for more than 35 years. The goal is to educate the public about assistance dogs and recognize their heroic deeds.
While guide dogs for the blind are probably the most familiar, there are actually several types of Assistance Dogs:
Guide Dogs. Assist people with vision loss, leading these individuals around physical obstacles and to destinations such as seating, crossing streets, entering or exiting doorways, elevators and stairways.
Service Dogs. Assist people with disabilities with walking, balance, dressing, transferring from place to place, retrieving and carrying items, opening doors and drawers, pushing buttons, pulling wheelchairs and aiding with household chores, such as putting in and removing clothes from the washer and dryer.
Hearing Alert Dogs. Alert people with a hearing loss to the presence of specific sounds such as doorbells, telephones, crying babies, sirens, another person, buzzing timers or sensors, knocks at the door or smoke, fire and clock alarms.
Seizure Alert/Seizure Response Dogs. Alert or respond to medical conditions, such as heart attack, stroke, diabetes, epilepsy, panic attack, anxiety attack, post-traumatic stress and seizures.
Medical Alert/Medical Response Dogs. Alert to oncoming medical conditions, such as heart attack, stroke, diabetes, epilepsy, panic attack, anxiety attack, and posttraumatic stress disorder.
An interesting example of a medical response dog is one that can sniff out cancer or diabetes. Certain diseases can give off odors which are imperceptible to human noses. Diabetes, for example, can produce a “fruity” smell when there is ketone production. Cancer cells emit different waste products than normal cells which have unique scents. Dogs can detect these smells help doctors identify patients with special needs.
Therapy Dogs. Provide support and social interaction. Therapy dogs can help alleviate distress and elevate the mood.
There are many types of dogs that are used as service animals, including Golden Retrievers and Labradors. Smaller dogs struggle to pick up and present objects in a suitable way and larger dogs may not be well accommodated in places such as restaurants or on a bus or plane. The service dogs obviously should have good temperaments, not be overly active, and be very confident (not overly dominant or submissive). Service dogs are typically trained for a period of around 6 months for 1-2 hours a day before being matched with an owner.
To find an IADW even near you, visit the official webpage at www.assistancedogweek.org.
International Assistance Dog Week (www.assistancedogweek.org)
Assistance Dogs International (http://www.assistancedogsinternational.org/)
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