Coming up in about a week is International Assistance Dog Week, August 4-11, 2013. This commemorative time serves to celebrate with millions of people worldwide who, with the loyalty and companionship of a service dog, have gained freedom and a new perspective of what is possible in their lives. Service dogs are formally trained to aid children and adults with physical or mental impairments with such things as opening doors, picking up objects, and anything else that increases a person’s mobility and independence, of course, within the realm of function for a dog.
The raising and training process is a long one, usually over two years, but well worth it for the companionship and help they eventually provide. Organizations that train these dogs are generally non-profits, providing dogs free of charge to those who go through a process of not only proving their need for a service dog, but their ability to provide for the care of the dog.
Canine Companions For Independence, one of the largest and most well-known non-profit organizations that provide service dogs published some suggestions for people who want to be involved in International Assistance Dog Week:
- A local proclamation. Start with a proclamation from your local public officials―mayor, state or local legislator or other dignitaries, affirming your community’s participation in this nationally recognized observance. Officials sometimes invite media and sponsoring organizations to public signings of these proclamations. Be sure to contact their offices soon!
- Give a talk: Help educate everyone about assistance dogs. Give a talk, presentation and/or demo of what assistance dogs can do at a local community center, school, library, daycare center, hospital, rehabilitation facility, or place of worship.
- Get on the radio: Call your local radio station to schedule a time you can come in to talk about your assistance dog or puppy, promote an upcoming Canine Companions event, or spread the word on assistance dogs in general.
- Hold a local event. Events can be fundraisers, educational events, fun events, or a combination. Join with others or do something on your own to recognize Canine Companions for Independence.
- Use social media to spread the word. Are you on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or other social media network? Tweet or post to your friends and ask them to “like” or follow Canine Companions for Independence. Or change your profile picture to a Canine Companions image or our logo. Facebook.com/caninecompanions or on Twitter @ccicanine
- Share our banner ads. Help us promote assistance dogs and our need for volunteer puppy raisers by downloading our banner ads
- Make a Donation. You can honor International Assistance Dog Week by making a donation in honor of the dogs that have changed your life the most at cci.org/tribute.
- Take your dog to the mall (those in service dog training). A great place to socialize your puppy, hand out Canine Companions brochures or bookmarks to the people that you meet.
Here is a list of a few Northern and Central Florida service dog organizations:
Southeast Region Canine Companions For Independence
New Horizons Service Dogs (Facebook)
Guardian Angel Medical Service Dogs,Inc.
Happy International Service Dog Week!