Hello everyone! Your friend Tuki coming to you from my perch here at the Potter League. I see all kinds of people coming and going while sitting on my perch and they all want to help the animals here. There are staff members, volunteers, and best of all, people who come in to adopt one of our animals and give them a loving home.
While I see all these amazing people helping the animals, I know there are a lot of ways we animals can help you humans, too!
Assistance dogs help people with disabilities become more able and give them more freedom and independence. They are trained to help their person with specific tasks. There are several different kinds of assistance dogs:
• Guide dogs are for people who are blind or visually impaired. They help their person avoid obstacles and keep them safe while walking.
• Hearing dogs help those who are deaf and hard of hearing. They are trained to alert their person to sounds such as a doorbell, telephone or a crying baby.
• Service dogs are trained to help people with all types of disabilities: Those who are in a wheelchair or have difficulty walking, people with autism, those who have medical issues like seizures or low blood sugar, and people with mental health issues. These dogs can be trained to open doors, turn lights on and off, pick up dropped items, help with balance, and provide deep pressure which can be calming.
Organizations that train assistance dogs sometimes need volunteers to take care of a mother dog who is having puppies that will be trained as assistance dogs or be a ‘puppy raiser’ and take care of a puppy from about 8 weeks to 1 year old before the puppy starts training as an assistance dog.
Therapy and Emotional Assistance Animals provide comfort, affection and help relieve stress. Research into using animals in medical and mental health treatment, or animal-assisted therapy, started in the 1960s when a child psychologist named Boris Levinson wrote about the positive effect his dog had on his patients. More recently, therapy and emotional assistance animals are being used to help people with cancer, dementia, and mental health disorders, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and autism. Research on whether therapy and emotional assistance animals really help people has shown that interacting with animals can reduce anxiety and boost positive emotions.