October 2014 is Dogtober Assistance Dog Month

October has become Dogtober in support of Assistance Dogs across Australia
October has become Dogtober in support of Assistance Dogs across Australia

– October 2014 has been renamed Dogtober to raise awareness of the ever increasing need for Assistance Dogs across Australia.

What are Assistance Dogs? Simply put they are dogs that assist children and adults living with disabilities to live a much more normal life than they would otherwise be able to. For example, at pups4sale we have a special place in our hearts for Sammy, the Golden Retriever Autism Assistance dog pictured here with his owner, Savannah. Sammy and Savannah have been together for several years now, and as featured on previous stories in the Daily Dog, Sammy has made an immeasurable difference to Savannah’s quality of life.

Sammy has enabled Savannah and her family to participate in so many more activities and outings than they otherwise would have been able to, but there are also less public ways Sammy has impacted Savannah’s quality of life. For instance, Savannah’s once frequent seizures are far less common since Sammy arrived. In fact as just one of the many benefits of Sammy’s 18 month long pre-placement training program, Sammy alerts Savannah’s parents when he senses (most likely through subtle, non-verbal cues) that a seizure is on it’s way. When Savannah has to go to hospital with a severe seizure, as you can see from the picture in this Post, Sammy is right there with her. As a result, Savannah is more settled and recovers much faster from such seizures than was the case pre-Sammy.

There are a number of organisations across Australia that train Assistance Dogs, with such organisations and their fundraising needs being the focus of Dogtober. The two we highlight today are:

Smart Pups – focused specifically on training Assistance dogs to work with children who suffer from Autism or seizure-related disabilities.

Assistance Dogs Australia – trains Assistance dogs to work with children and adults who have a wide range of disabilities.

Needless to say, training Assistance Dogs takes a lot of time and costs a lot of money. Sammy cost Savannah’s family well over $20,000 – money they raised themselves through the tremendous fundraising efforts of Savannah’s mum and many local businesses. Sammy was supplied through Smart Pups, who charge for the dogs they train. Assistance Dogs Australia on the other hand does not charge the recipient family for the supplied Assistance Dog, rather relying on donations and sponsorships to pay the large bills incurred by the intensive training required.

Indeed it is amazing what a wide range of tasks Assistance Dogs can be trained to undertake. As Assistance Dogs Australia states on their website :

Assistance Dogs can pick up dropped items, open and close doors and cupboards, press the pedestrian button at the lights, pay the cashier at the shops, get the phone, unload the washing machine and alert bark if their owner is in trouble.

Having seen Sammy in action ourselves, we are in awe at what Assistance dogs can be trained to do.

So fellow dog-lovers, if you are looking for a great cause to support this October…sorry…Dogtober…then supporting either of the above worthy organisations is a great place to start! With so much publicity in the media over dog attacks on people and animals these days, Assistance Dogs and their bright “uniforms” are tremendous ambassadors to the general public of what dogs are really all about; being our best friends.

If you have the privilege of seeing an Assistance Dog working with his owner in a busy shopping centre and the huge amount of positive attention they attract, then do consider a donation to an Assistance Dog organisation such as those mentioned above. After all, any one of us could be in need of their services one day, when you stop to think about the uncertainties of life. Food for thought, isn’t it?

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