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Let’s celebrate! It’s International Assistance Dog Week

 In Facility Dogs, PPH Blog, Service Dogs, Specialist Therapy Dogs

Happy International Assistance Dog Week! We’re taking this time to celebrate our top-notch dogs and educate folks about the important role they play in helping Warriors along the road to recovery.

You’ve heard of a service dog, therapy dog, and an emotional support animal, but where does an assistance dog fit into the mix?

What is an assistance dog?

“Assistance dog” is actually a generic term for “a guide, hearing, or service dog specifically trained to do three or more tasks to mitigate the effects of an individual’s disability,” according to Assistance Dog International (ADI).

Beyond their adorable faces and lovable personalities, these dogs provide increased independence for their human companions. Because they are covered under many legislative access laws, most well-behaved assistance dogs are allowed into public with their handler.  This can drastically increase the quality of life for someone with a disability.

These highly skilled animals are trained to meet the needs of people of all ages and varying abilities. Guide dogs can safely lead the way for people with visual impairments, alert dogs can detect the onset of medical conditions like seizures, and hearing dogs can alert individuals who are deaf or have difficulty hearing.

So what types of assistance dogs do Paws for Purple Hearts train for our nation’s Warriors?


Types of PPH assistance dogs

PPH specializes in providing assistance dogs to Warriors facing mobility limitations or trauma-related conditions like post-traumatic stress (PTS).

Mobility service dog

PPH service dogs are trained to assist Warriors with physical challenges ranging from limited to no mobility. These dogs can perform a wide variety of tasks such as retrieving medication, opening doors, bracing, and turn on/off lights.

Psychiatric service dog

PPH also trains service dogs for Warriors with post-traumatic stress (PTS), traumatic brain injury (TBI), and military sexual trauma (MST). This type of assistance dog is trained to mitigate symptoms like anxiety, night terrors, and flashbacks that are a result of these trauma-related conditions.

Jeff and service dog Annie

Specialist therapy dog

Rather than being placed directly with a Veteran, this unique type of assistance dog works with mental health professionals to deliver clinical evaluations and assist in the treatment of Warrior patients. These dogs pick up on the emotional state of Warriors and offer behaviors to provide comfort or interrupt intrusive thoughts.

PPH Patsy with her handler
PPH Patsy with her handler

Facility dog

The simple presence of a PPH facility dog boosts morale, builds a welcoming atmosphere, and promotes healing for Warriors. These dogs are paired with professionals who may work in any setting involving clients who are Service Members or Veterans who benefit from interactions with a dog.

Facility dog Webb with future service dog Ozzy
Facility dog Webb with future service dog Ozzy

Assistance dogs improve the lives of Warriors

It’s no simple task training an assistance dog. In fact, it can cost up to $35,000 and take over two and a half years to perfect the skills necessary for just one PPH dog to graduate. So why do we do it?

As of 2019, 4.7 million U.S. Veterans reported having a service-connected disability according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. At PPH, we are doing our part to improve the lives of these Warriors by providing as many as we can with lovable, hardworking battle buddies to go through life with.

Warriors who receive or interact with our dogs have reported having an increase in self-esteem, improved sleep, a decrease in irritability, and a renewed sense of purpose in life. And that is why we do what we do!

Help PPH serve those who have served

It is only through the support of our generous donors that we are able to provide all of our assistance dogs free to qualified Warriors. To date, we have served hundreds of Warriors facing mobility challenges and trauma-related conditions, but our mission will not be complete until we improve the lives of all those who have served. Your contribution will help transform the lives of America’s heroes. Please consider making a gift today!

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