Today, August 1st, marks the start of International Assistance Dog Week, with August 4th being International Assistance Dog Day. Our canine companions are absolutely incredible animals! Fido’s intelligence, devotion, and hard work are special gifts, ones that let him help people with medical conditions and disabilities have independent lives. A veterinarian talks about assistance dogs below.
A Helping Paw
Assistance Dog Week began with the intent to honor all of the caring, loyal pooches that help their human friends live their best lives. But, there’s more to the celebration than just giving Fido a well-earned and deserved pat on the head. The week is also about raising awareness, not only for Fido, but for the people who train and place assistance dogs.
What Is An Assistance Dog?
Assistance dogs often get confused with therapy dogs. These dogs do have several things in common. For one, they all help their humans live complete and fulfilling lives. And, they’re all adorable! That said, there are some concrete distinctions. Assistance dogs, also called service dogs, are trained to perform certain functions or tasks. Protected by law, they’re allowed to go anywhere their humans go, with the exception of a few places, like hospitals. Therapy dogs, on the other hand, are trained to help people deal with grief, sadness, trauma, and anxiety.
Dogs that meet some specific requirements are classified as assistance dogs. According to law, the dogs’ owner must be disabled. Plus, assistance dogs must be trained to help their humans mitigate or overcome the disability in some way. Pooches must also prove themselves to be Good Boys in public by acting properly and being well-behaved at all times. They must also be in good health and kept up to proper hygiene standards.
Seeing Eye Dogs are one example of an assistance dog. They help guide a blind owner around. Assistance dogs are also trained to sense oncoming seizures or blood sugar level drops for diabetics, and then act accordingly.
It’s now a felony to interfere or harm an assistance dog. It’s not illegal to pet them, but it’s considered inconsiderate. Always ask the owner for permission to touch or interact with an assistance dog. After all, Fido is a working dog, and needs to pay attention!
If you have questions about assistance dogs, call your local animal clinic for more information!