Sunday, August 5, 2012

Assistance Dog Week


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By Diane Forrest

While my husband was in a wheelchair, we joined an organization called LIFE (Living Independently for Everyone).  It was a great organization that assisted people with disabilities.  They provided us with a lift for the van that lifted the wheelchair in the back.  After he was no longer to get out of his chair, we returned to lift to them so they could send it to someone else in need.  They also built a ramp for a handicapped friend who is wheelchair bound, and had no way to get out of his home.

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This Organization had a conference every year where handicapped people could get together and discuss issues that were affecting everyone.  There was one member there, an older lady in a wheelchair that had a beautiful Siberian Husky dog at her side.  It was then I learned more about service dogs.  I have always known about Seeing Eye dogs, but I did not know they had dogs available to help with other disabilities.  Her dog helped her with many different things, but there are certain things to remember with service animals.

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These dogs are at work.  They should not be distracted, played with only with the owner's permission and you should never tease or torture them, or any animal.

This week is Assistance Dog week.  It was created to recognize of all the devoted, hardworking assistance dogs helping individuals mitigate their disability-related limitations.

Assistance dogs transform the lives of their human partners with debilitating physical and mental disabilities by serving as their companion, helper, aide, best friend and close member of their family.

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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 petliferadio.com. As a member of a service dog team, she founded Working like Dogs to honor assistance dogs around the world and is sponsoring International Assistance Dog Week.

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To learn more about the assistance dogs, click on this site http://www.assistancedogweek.org/

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