Paws for Thought | Pooches happy to lend that helping paw

CANINE COMPANION: In addition to being loving and trusted companions, many dogs can also help their humans live happier, more independent lives.
CANINE COMPANION: In addition to being loving and trusted companions, many dogs can also help their humans live happier, more independent lives.

Dogs are amazing animals, bringing love and joy to many families.

Assistance dogs are specially trained to bring this love and joy but also help people with disabilities live a more fulfilled, independent life.

Perhaps the most well-known assistance dog is a guide dog for the blind. They assist by leading the blind around obstacles, helping with things like crossing the road and navigating trickier situations such as elevators and stairs.

Other types of assistance dogs include hearing dogs who help alert the hard of hearing to various noises from a knock at the door to a fire alarm.

Service dogs are assistance dogs that aid people who lack mobility, helping with obtaining dropped items, flicking switches on and off, carrying items in a back pack and barking to alert others of an issue.

Some assistance dogs are trained for emotional support. They help people with mental or emotional disorders by reducing stress and providing comfort.

There are dogs trained to detect if a diabetic has low blood glucose levels and thus alert the person before a hypoglycaemic episode.

Some can even be trained to detect when a person is about to have a seizure, alerting the person who can then move to a safe area where they are less likely to get hurt.

Assistance dogs are trained from puppies. Their training is quite involved and takes up to two years, after which they become a life-changing support to the people that need them, but also become part of their family.

Assistance dogs also often bring tremendous emotional support and aid in learning difficulties to children with special needs.