International Assistance Dog Week was created to recognize all the devoted, hardworking assistance dogs helping individuals mitigate their disability-related limitations. In addition to honoring assistance dogs during their special week, one of the goals is to raise awareness about these very special and highly-trained canines.
Assistance Dogs transform the lives of their human partners with debilitating physical and mental disabilities by serving as their devoted companion, helper, aide, best friend and close member of their family.
What types of assistance dogs are there?
While many people are familiar with Guide Dogs, those that assist people with vision loss, not as many people are aware of the other types of assistance dogs working today. Here is a description of the various 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.
Are assistance dogs allowed to go in to restaurants and other businesses even though other pets can’t?
Yes, assistance dogs are allowed to accompany their human partners to places of business including restaurants and shops. Under state law and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), they are guaranteed equal access to any and all establishments and accommodations; no extra charge can be levied because of the dog.
Are all assistance dogs retrievers or are they other breeds as well?
Assistance Dogs can be from a variety of breeds including, but not limited to: Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, Standard Poodles, as well as shelter dogs.
International Assistance Dog Week was established due to the efforts of Marcie Davis, a paraplegic for over 35 years and CEO of Davis Innovations, a consulting firm based in Santa Fe, NM. Davis is the author of Working Like Dogs: The Service Dog Guidebook, a resource book that captures personal stories, checklists and practical tips to provide the reader with an A-Z guide about service dogs and she is the host of the Internet radio program, Working Like Dogs, at www.petliferadio.com. As a member of a service dog team, she founded Working Like Dogs to honor assistance dogs around the world.
More information about International Assistance Dog week can be found at www.assistancedogweek.org.