If you have ever owned a dog, then you probably know just how wonderful they are as companions. But what about something more than that?
Have you ever felt as though they provide a good sense of emotional well-being, or perhaps how you don’t feel so lonely when they are around?
For years, dogs have stood by our side as companions. What was first an agreement of feeding and nurturing them in return of hunting for and aiding us has now turned into companionship, primarily.
Today, though, dogs are still used in many fields for a variety of purposes. There are the military, police, sniffer, bomb-detecting, guide, and emotional support dogs, plus many more. In particular, service dogs can be beneficially used to help TBI victims.
Service dogs are dogs trained specifically to help a person with a disability. This could be a mental illness, visual impairment, someone who often experiences seizures or has difficulties with diabetes, or any other disability that affects way of life.
There are also different types of service dogs that are trained to help with different circumstances. There are emotional support service dogs, which provide you with company, lift your emotional well-being, and make you feel happy and positive.
These dogs can take away the pain of those suffering daily by distracting or offering themselves as a form of companionship to pull through the difficult time.
Then there are also functional service dogs, which can go and retrieve your shoes or medication. These are dogs that serve a particular function to assist in your daily life.
There are eligibility requirements that people have to meet to be able to get a service dog. For example, the person must be at least 12 years old, unless the service dog is needed for an autistic child.
Other requirements include proper diagnosis of a physical disability or disorder, being able to independently command/handle a service dog, and having no other dogs in the home.
The time it takes to train the service dogs, and the effort to find qualified dogs makes them quite expensive – training them can take years. It can be easy to qualify for one, but much harder to get one, especially one that is trained specifically for your needs.
To apply for one, first, you would want to get the appropriate documentation prepared from your healthcare provider stating your medical condition, reasons you need one, and other things you should address with your doctor.
Then, it is recommended to perform a search for your particular area or to make some calls for your location. There are different service dog organizations for the separate countries and/or states, so it is best to conduct your own research on which is right for you, and perhaps call them for further information.
Anyone can train a dog to become a service animal. You will need to identify your dog and understand them accordingly, but any dog breed is suitable for service work and each might be able to provide a unique service.
However, you want to make sure that your dog has a good temperament for service work, as well as optimal health. Then, you will want to find a good trainer, or you can train the dog yourself. This is the case for the United States – here, there are no required ADA certification for service animal training.
To pass, though, these are the requirements:
You can read more about training your dog to be a service dog and what it entails here.
Every traumatic brain injury is different, varying greatly between individuals depending on the circumstances involved. For example, maybe you are left visually impaired, or perhaps you experience frequent seizures.
Different service dogs can assist you, depending on your disabilities or conditions. If you are left visually impaired, guide dogs can help you.
If you have seizures, service dogs that are equipped with the knowledge and skills to handle seizures definitely come in handy.
They might predict the seizure or bring you medication for it. It’s quite phenomenal just how smart these dogs are!
It’s important to consider the responsibilities associated with service dogs. You need to be able to care for one, and you need to be prepared financially, as well as physically and mentally. While they might be incredibly smart, they are still dogs that can’t talk to you like a human being can.
Consider all of your treatment options carefully and speak to a trusted doctor or therapist prior to moving forward with a service dog to get a well-informed opinion on the matter.