What you Need to Know about International Assistance Dog Week
Did you know that the first full week of August is International Assistance Dog Week?
It’s true! International Assistance Dog Week (IADW) was created as a result of the
diligence of Marcie Davis. Marcie is the author of “Working Like Dogs: The Service Dog
Guidebook”. Marcie has been a paraplegic for over 35 years and is a strong advocate for the empowerment of those in need, particularly those in currently underserved groups.
IADW is ran by Marcie’s nonprofit, Soulful presence.
So, what is International Assistance Dog Week?
The aim of IADW is to place assistance dogs, and their handlers in the spotlight. As with anything else, awareness is key is educating communities as a whole about the importance of assistance dogs and how they help people work beyond their disabilities with the help and guidance of a furry friend! It is not only a time to honor assistance dogs for the heroes they are but it is also time to recognize how powerful a role the puppy raisers and handlers play in the process.
What types of assistance dogs are out there?
Many people are only aware of guide dogs however these dogs are trained to be aides to specific people with specific disabilities. Sometimes dogs are trained up for one special person.
Guide dogs – help people with vision loss cross stress, navigate stairs and elevators and navigate their way around obstacles in their way.
Service dogs – assist with daily activities around the home such as retrieving items, moving things from place to place, opening doors to rooms and doors to the refrigerator. Hearing Alert Dogs – help hearing impaired individuals recognize sounds such as sirens, doorbells, crying babies, alarms of all kinds and more.
Medical and/or Seizure Alert and Response Dogs – Recognize and respond to a variety of health issues including anxiety and panic attacks, diabetes, epilepsy, stroke and more.
Can I approach a service dog and their handler?
While it’s really hard to resist interacting with a service dog you must always remember that they are “on the job”. Keep your distance from a dog on duty. Don’t talk to the dog or offer him a treat. You should always ask the handler of the dog first if you can approach the dog. While these dogs are trained to stay “working” until their handler issues a command to do otherwise, you wouldn’t want to risk distracting the dog from doing his job as it could be life threatening. Of course, feel free to engage and converse with the dog’s handler as you would any other person you meet.
How can I help?
With technology at your fingertips, it’s easier than ever to help spread the word! Use social media to spread awareness to start! If you’re eager to really get involved reach out to local organizations to see how they’re celebrating IADW and go help out. If you’re feeling really adventurous, grab a few pet loving friends and create an event of your own and raise money and awareness at the same time.
For more information about International Assistance Dog Week, click here.