The Incredible Trainable Dog

January 28, 2008 Kyron 1 Comment

Growing up I was fascinated by Helen Keller. I read EVERYTHING I could get my hands on about her. I wanted to know all I could about her. I wanted to understand what it was to be blind. I wanted to understand what it was to be deaf. I read all I could about being blind and deaf, about the various services available or anything else I could put my hands on. I learned some sign language, I watched the miracle worker every chance I could, I talked about teaching deaf or blind students. I talked about training service dogs.

Obviously that’s not the path I took. Like many other kids, I moved onto other things. My fascination with service dogs has never really ended though. Most people know about service (Guide) dogs  for the blind. Most have also heard about service (Hearing) dogs for those who are deaf. The reality though is that there is an incredibly diverse number of organizations who train dogs for a multitude of purposes!

Today’s Atlanta Journal-Constitution has an article about service dogs for autistic children. The dogs are trained to intervene during behaviors, tether the child from being able to dart away during frightening or upsetting experiences, and interrupt repetitive behaviors. The dogs are also trained in search and rescue should a child get lost.

Maybe even more amazing than the fact that the dogs can be trained to perform these amazing and life saving tasks is probably the fact that for so many children the connection with the animal becomes a calming and “social” experience. These children who have such difficulties forming relationships seem to form one with their service dog. The mere presence of the animal for many seems to have an incredible calming effect for the child.

I think a dog like this could be an incredible help to Katherine. If I didn’t have such horrific allergies I’d get one for her too. Maybe as she becomes an adult and we try to give her a more independent living situation, maybe we could do it then. I think it would have some pretty significant benefits for her. Aside from the obvious service benefit, I’ve seen Katherine around animals. It has this amazing effect on her. I have yet to see something that duplicates that effect and this is why I think it would serve her so well to have one. There are dogs that are also trained to perform for multiple purposes which would be of great use to Katherine (and my peace of mind).

There are dogs for seizure assistance, diabetic response, physical assistance and even psychiatric service dogs. The big down side for many in obtaining a service dog is the price. Service dogs range in price from $3000 to well over $20,000. Financial assistance can be available so most organizations strongly suggest that if you have a need for an assistance dog to apply. Frequently local support can be used to fundraise. There are organizations out there who do NOT charge for the service dog. The cost is significant because not only is there a significant training period for the dog but then the human must be trained in how to utilize the dog as well. All this training costs money.

If you think that a service dog might be a resource you should investigate further some of these sites may be of use to you:

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Currently there is "1 comment" on this Article:

  1. Rosie says:

    I have a good friend who trains assistance dogs, and what these dogs can do is amazing. They really are a Godsend to the families who receive them.

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