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Pets who care for people

Anyone who has ever owned or loved a pet knows the joy, friendship and company they give. Just imagine then, the importance of support dogs for the people they care for.

This week, we're celebrating not only guide dogs, but other support dogs too, and the beautiful gifts these amazing creatures give their humans every single day…

Who needs a guide dog?

It’s well known that Guide Dogs assist people who are vision impaired or have mobility issues, but their work doesn’t stop there. There are many types of assistance dogs, trained to give service, support, love and companionship to people with a diverse range of needs.

People who may benefit from the support of an assistance dog include:

· People with a disability

· Older adults who need help with independent living

· Children with social or behavioural conditions

· People who are isolated due to age or illness

Different people, different dogs

Most of us are familiar with fully trained Guide Dogs. These are the dogs – often Golden Retrievers or Labradors, trained to help their owners live more independently and to move freely and safely in their homes and communities. Guide dogs help their owners navigate their homes, busy streets, shopping centres, road crossings and more.

These dogs are highly intelligent, extensively trained and purposely paired with their owners. Their work is incredible and beautiful, but they’re not the only dogs giving help to those in need!

These service dogs also provide care and support in our communities

Therapy Dogs

Therapy dogs provide comfort, companionship and emotional support to individuals and families experiencing behavioural, emotional or mental health issues. They assist people with physical disabilities, isolation or illness. Therapy dogs can accompany their owners into settings such as schools and workplaces so they may continue to function in the community, with the safety and security of their companion by their side.

Facility Dogs

As the name suggests, these dogs help people in facilities like hospitals, nursing homes, aged care, rehabilitation or mental wellness centres. Their work might involve encouraging people to participate in a class or program, providing company to people who are physically isolated or uncomfortable in social situations. They may help people to move beyond a challenge – physical or emotional – or simply provide calm and reassurance where its needed. Facility dogs work with counsellors, psychologists, nurses and rehabilitation therapists.

Autism Assistance Dogs

These special animals are trained to work very closely with their young human friends who may be as young as 3 years old. Autism assistance dogs help children who have difficulty in verbal and non-verbal communication, limited social interaction and impaired daily function. These dogs promote positive social interactions and help children develop the skills and confidence to more readily participate in the community. Their calming nature and companionship provides a sense of safety, security and comfort and promotes positive behavioural change.

This brief look at the roles of guide and service dogs gives insight to the value they bring to their owners’ lives.

Beyond this, their support helps whole families, carers, and whole communities –helping more people become comfortable, safe and active participants.

If you or someone you know might benefit from a service dog, or if you'd like to offer support for the ongoing training of these amazing animals, follow the link below:

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