term assistance or service dog is heard more and more frequently
nowadays, but there are still a lot of people who haven't heard
of them or know what they can do. An
expanding role of assistance dogs in their disabled partners
lives has emerged. Partnerships normally fit into one of
the following categories:
Blind and visually impaired partners rely on their guide dogs to
safely negotiate the unseen environment.
Deaf and hard-of-hearing partners rely on their hearing dogs to
alert them to unheard sounds in the environment.
People with disabilities other than blindness and deafness rely
on their assistance or service dogs to mitigate the disabling condition in a
variety of ways. Assistance or service dogs are trained to
perform many physical tasks including but not limited to pulling
a wheelchair, lending balance support, picking up dropped or
requested objects or providing assistance in a medical crisis.
They can also be trained to carry out a variety of other tasks
The common experience of those choosing partnership with
assistance dogs is that they increase independence, confidence, safety and
improve the quality of life of their disabled partners.
A common held belief that ought to be challenged is that these
dogs are only for the most severely impaired or end stage of a
degenerative disease like MS. Someone who is considered much
more moderately disabled, struggling with the difficulties of
living alone, maintaining a job or raising a family could find
teamwork with a highly trained assistance or service dog to be of enormous
benefit in achieving the goal of remaining as self sufficient as
possible. A number of tasks listed below could empower such
individuals to conserve energy, reduce or avoid pain, minimize
dependency on loved ones, prevent injuries or get help in a
This section concentrates largely on assistance dogs and their
potential help to someone with spinal cord injury.
My Assistance Dog is called
Henry and we have been partnered since September 2003. He
features in the photographs shown here.
Assistance Dog Tasks
My Assistance Dog
Assistance Dog Videos
Henry's Dog Blog