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Heroes for Heroes

My first real knowledge of service dogs was years ago when I read The Leading Lady: Dinah’s Story by Betty White. What a revelation that was! Today, guide dogs and service dogs have expanded their reach and ability to help so many people in their lives.
My next exposure was by providing veterinary care to a couple of puppy raising families locally. I learned what a task it is to prepare a dog for this type of career! I was invited to Graduation ceremonies at our local service dog school, Saint Francis of Assisi, in Roanoke. There I met recipients of these wonderful dogs and heard their stories first hand. There was hardly a dry eye on the crowd that day except for the dogs who were wondering what the big deal was!
These specially trained dogs assist disabled people in many ways. They help the physically disabled with tasks and provide safety and constant companionship. They do incredible things for children with mental disabilities, by calming with their watchful presence and providing a connection to the outside world that can be found nowhere else. One of the most interesting to me was a fact I heard repeatedly, that the isolation of being bound to a wheelchair is broken by having a dog. People are hesitant to approach or strike up a conversation with someone in a chair, but if a dog is present, their world instantly changes.
I want to share a recent development for service dogs and that is with veterans programs. Veterans returning from war sometimes need physical assistance, but more than anything, the calm constant love of this dog can provide emotional support. Brain injury is much in the news lately, from war and from sports injuries. Service dogs can help with post traumatic stress syndrome, seizure disorders, and depression. Exercise is a real treatment for depression and a dog provides the motivation and reason for getting out and moving. Dogs can detect seizures and erratic behavior before the patient even knows it’s coming. Don’t we witness this ability in our own households?
It is my hope that we will soon be seeing service dogs everywhere they can help, so don’t be surprised to see a dog politely waiting under a table in a restaurant with someone you’d never guess needed a service dog! These dogs are allowed by law to go everywhere their owner goes. And remember to ask before petting a dog that is working. You just may make a new friend in the process!
I just want to say a big thank you to all the puppy raisers, to the dedicated organizations who train dogs to be good citizens, and to our veterans for their service to our country.
The cost of raising a service dog ranges from $10-60,000 so let’s all do our best to support these organizations in any way we can!
http://www.saintfrancisdogs.org/
http://www.vetshelpingheroes.org/
http://www.ada.gov/qasrvc.htm

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May 7, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment