Q. what is the difference between a service dog, a facility dog,a therapy dog, and an emotional support dog?
A service dog must meet very specific physical needs of his partner, such as alerting to seizures, breaking falls, lifting objects, or keeping his partner safe. Service dogs undergo very extensive training that can last for up to three years, depending on the disability they are trained to cover. Service dogs are allowed public access in most cases because of the American Disabilities Act, however establishment owners may ask a service dog team to leave if the dog eliminates, barks or growls.
A facility dog serves many purposes, from helping with physical therapy needs to alerting to low blood sugar, facility dogs can perform a variety of tasks to help patients accomplish tasks, making their lives easier. Facility dogs also act as therapy dogs. For example, when a dementia patient is irritable the dog may distract her to change her mood. He may also stand between the patient and an outside door or a hot stove. Facility dogs are only allowed in public when they are with a handler and a patient who needs them. During these times, facility dogs earn the same legal access as service dogs.
A therapy dog is not guaranteed public access by law, however many hospitals, nursing homes and schools welcome well-trained dogs who are focused on those in their care. Therapy dogs must be able to tolerate a wide variety of experiences, environments and people. Therapy dogs are trained to help many people. Therapy dogs provide care and comfort to those in need.
Emotional Support Animals provide emotional support through companionship. They are close with their partner and they are legally allowed access to housing which normally posts a “No Pets” policy. ESA are allowed in some college classrooms and dorms, but only at the discretion of the school. Emotional Support Animals have in recent years been given access to airplane cabins with their handlers, however these regulations are changing because of the lack of training many animals exhibit in these small spaces.
Q. How long does it take to train a service or therapy dog?
A. Service dogs train everyday for two years, sometimes longer depending on the specific disability to which they are assigned. Much time, money and training go into this education, and when broken down, a $20,000 service dog is a great deal. Therapy dogs can train for up to two years.
Q.Where do bella’s buddies come from? do you use rescue dogs?
A. Depending on a person’s disability, some breeds are more useful than others. Labs, goldens, and goldendoodles in our opinion. There are many successful rescue dogs who must work ten times harder to learn. We have rehabilitated and continue to take some rescues, however they require more time and this limits the total number of dogs we can place. We typically offer rescues as pets or companions rather than working dogs. We started our own breeding program in order to be “hands-on” from the day puppies are born. We follow a strict protocol with puppies, exposing them to many different sights, sounds and situations before they turn six weeks old. Before our breeding program began, we had to wait to get puppies until at least 8 weeks of age. Now, we start on day one.
Q.do service and therapy dogs ever get the chance to “just be dogs”?
A. Boy, do they ever! Our DogSquad loves the water. Anytime they have the opportunity, they head for the creek or one of the ponds. Most of them love to play fetch and we play tug-of-war with them. They learn tricks in their down time, such as how to salute, crawl, hold eggs in their mouths without breaking them or smile. They sleep in crates, but they grab naps on sofas and beds like every other dog. Even with all of these favorite pastimes, the DogSquad is always itching to “go see the kids”. Yes, that is a command! They long to be serving humans - and it is this longing that lets us know we have chosen the right dogs for the jobs.
Q. What is Animal Assisted Therapy and how can it help in our school?
A. Animal Assisted Therapy provides positive outcomes and overall improved emotional well-being in those with autism, medical conditions, or behavioral issues. Some controlled studies found that animal-assisted therapy can be helpful for those battling illnesses like depression, schizophrenia, or addiction. AAT also benefits school children in varied circumstances by providing support.