Many of you may have seen this touching story on the Today Show (Guide dog lands spot in yearbook next to girl he takes care of: ‘They’re such a great team’ – TODAY June 10, 2014), in TIME Magazine or floating around on Facebook. Taxi Benke is an assistance dog who is inseparable from 14-year-old Rachel Benke. Rachel suffers from epileptic seizures and Taxi can predict when a seizure is coming. He can quickly alert family and teachers. Taxi attends school with Rachel every day and now has a spot in the middle school yearbook alongside Rachel and her classmates.
Assistance dogs give individuals hope and independence. These dogs serve as companions, helpers, aides, best friends and close family members. There are several types of assistance dogs. Most people are familiar with Guide Dogs, those that assist people with vision loss. Here is a brief description of some other types of assistance dogs.
- Service Dogs – These dogs assist people with disabilities with walking, balance, dressing, transferring from place to place, retrieving and carrying items, opening doors and drawers, pushing buttons, pulling wheelchairs and aiding with household chores, such as putting in and removing clothes from the washer and dryer.
- Hearing Alert Dogs – These dogs alert people with a hearing loss to the presence of specific sounds such as doorbells, telephones, crying babies, sirens, another person, buzzing timers or sensors, knocks at the door or smoke, fire and clock alarms.
- Medical Alert/Medical Response Dogs – These dogs alert or respond to medical conditions, such as heart attack, stroke, diabetes, epilepsy, panic attack, anxiety attack, post-traumatic stress, and seizures.
International Assistance Dog Week was created to honor the hardworking dogs that help individuals mitigate their disability-related limitations. Assistance dogs are found in hospitals, nursing homes, schools, and private homes. They enhance the lives of children, seniors, active-duty service members, and Veterans.
Please share your stories, experiences, and photos in the comments below, or with us on Facebook or Twitter. Let’s raise awareness about how these specially trained dogs are aiding so many people in our community. Let’s honor the trainers who work with these devoted and hardworking dogs. Let’s recognize the heroic deeds performed by assistance dogs everyday in our lives and the lives around us.