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Assistance Dogs

 

A service animal is not a pet.

 

  •  The ADA defines a service animal as any guide dog, signal dog, or other animal individually trained to provide assistance to an individual with a disability. If they meet this definition, animals are considered service animals under the ADA regardless of whether they have been licensed or certified by a state or local government.
     

Service animals perform some of the functions and tasks that the individual with a disability cannot perform for him or herself. Guide dogs are one type of service animal, used by some individuals who are blind. This is the type of service animal with which most people are familiar. But there are service animals that assist persons with other kinds of disabilities in their day-to-day activities. Some examples include:
 

  •    Alerting persons with hearing impairments to sounds.
  •    Pulling wheelchairs or carrying and picking up things for persons     with mobility impairments.
  •    Assisting persons with mobility impairments with balance.


Some, but not all, service animals wear special collars and harnesses. Some, but not all, are licensed or certified and have identification papers. If you are not certain that an animal is a service animal, you may ask the person who has the animal if it is a service animal required because of a disability.

However, an individual who is going to a restaurant or theater is not likely to be carrying documentation of his or her medical condition or disability. Therefore, such documentation generally may not be required as a condition for providing service to an individual accompanied by a service animal.

Although a number of states have programs to certify service animals, you may not insist on proof of state certification before permitting the service animal to accompany the person with a disability.

We train a variety of Breeds

Most Service dog programs don't even think of training smaller working dogs.  Many different breeds can become wonderful helper dogs. Poodles, Havanese and little mixes as well as Golden Retrievers and Labs have a history of great temperaments. 

You may need size and strength depending on your disability. A little dog can not brace and pull you up. A big dog can't sit in your lap. You need a dog that wants to please.  The little ones are very smart and creative.

 

Little Dogs are Big Helpers

Sparky lives with his family in Florida and can do all sorts of helpful things.

Here's a note from his Mom:

Dear Openheart,

Thanks for Sparky. He has made my life so much better. As soon as I am dressed, Sparky helps me make the bed. He barks and jumps up on the other side of the bed, waiting for me to say "Let's Make the Bed"

Sparky takes the sheet between his teeth and carefully pulls it up toward the headboard.  Next we pull up the blankets. "Pillow Time Sparky". Sparky drags them to the top of the bed and seems to ask "What's next". I quickly say "Breakfast" and we are off to the kitchen together.

After breakfast Sparky helps me with the housework. We do one room at a time,  picking up anything on the floor. I tell him if it is trash or treasure.  As he finds  my phone, and he fetches it and puts it back on the charger. The TV remote goes in the pouch on the arm of my wheelchair.  Then I send him to put his toys back in his basket.

I use the laser pointer on the lower cupboard and say "Open It." Sparky pulls on the leather tug attached to the handle, then waits, as I empty the waste basket into the container under the sink. With a touch of his paw, he closes the cupboard door.

When we go out together, Sparky jumps on my lap and presses the handicap door opener button for me. We roll to the elevator, and he presses the button with his nose, and we are off. He will touch anything I point at with that laser pointer.

 Laundry is something I can do again, thanks to Sparky. I say "Get the Laundry and he empties out the hamper. Then he drags the clothing to me one piece at a time. It's quite a site to see. Sparky can even empty  the dryer into the Laundry Basket. He can't fold them, but I can. Then we ride back to my bedroom together and put them away.

Most people are used to seeing large breeds doing service dog work, but a small dog performing these tasks always causes a commotion. People are amazed at the things he can do to help me. Everyone wants to pet him and I have to say "Sorry, he is working".  He is a joy.

So many of us have electric chairs today - a little dog can ride along and hop off when it's time to work.

Dogs can do amazing things - here is a link to some of them Service Dog Tasks


 

Openheart Inc. is an IRS recognized 501(c)(3) charitable organization. Your donations are tax deductible as allowed by law. We Thank You for your continued support.

 Donations may also be sent by snail mail: Box 618-192; Orlando Fl 32618.
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