Most people are familiar with dogs that have been specially trained to provide assistance to persons with disabilities. Partnering with an assistance dog not only helps the handler achieve a greater level of freedom and independence but also fosters a unique and extremely close bond between them.
Catie, a Portuguese Water Dog, earned
her AKC Pet Therapy title when
she was just 2-1/2 years old.
Perhaps the best-known type of assistance dogs are the guide dogs that assist blind and visually impaired people by avoiding obstacles, stopping at curbs and steps, and negotiating traffic. The person gives directional commands, while the dog ensures that person's safety even if this requires disobeying an unsafe command.
Hearing dogs assist deaf and hard of hearing individuals by alerting them to a variety of household sounds such as someone calling out a name, a doorbell or knock on the door, an alarm clock buzzing, an oven timer’s beep, a telephone ringing, a baby’s cry, or a smoke alarm going off. These dogs are trained to make physical contact and lead their deaf partners to the source of the sound.
Service dogs assist physically disabled people by picking up and bringing objects that are out of their reach. Among other tasks, these dogs also pull wheelchairs, open and close doors, turn light switches on and off, bark for alert, find another person, and help persons who are a bit unsteady on their feet to walk by providing balance and counterbalance.
The day is brighter after
a visit with a therapy dog like Gunnar.