Mobility assistance dogs have greatly enriched the lives of thousands of affected with a handicap worldwide. Teamwork between dog and human enables handicapped people to regain independence while forming a partnership of mutual trust. Many are familiar with the type of dog that is trained to assist the visually impaired. However there are other types of service dogs like hearing dogs that assist deaf people, seizure alert dogs that respond to a person’s seizures, mobility dogs that assist with movement, and therapy dogs who are trained to keep the owner calm during stressful situations.
In the past quarter of a century a broad set of tasks have been developed to address daily living needs. Some teams have mastered up to 50 tasks from the benefit of advanced education. One myth that has been dispelled is that service dogs are only for the most severely handicapped. There is a myriad of information on the Internet that pertains to specific disability and symptoms. Most of us are familiar with the traditional tasks of the mobility assistance dog. Here is a list of some that you may not know of:
- Unload laundry from dryer
- Fetch wheelchair when out of reach
- Assist in clean up of house – pickup, carry, deposit designated items
- Pay for purchases at high counters
- Assist partner to load laundry into top loading washing machine
- Tug socks off without biting down on foot
- Pull drapery cord to open or close drapes
- Transfer assistance from wheelchair to van seat, bed, toilet or bathtub
- Assist to walk step by step, brace between each step, from wheelchair to nearby seat
- Call 911 on K-9 rescue phone, let emergency personnel into home and lead to partners location
- Lie down on handicap person’s chest to produce a cough when suction machine is unavailable
Mobility dogs enhance the lives of handicap people by increasing independence, confidence, and self esteem, they also provide access to work, education and recreation.