The History of Assistance Dogs
It’s International Assistance Dog Day! Today, we’re taking the time to show our gratitude to our superhero dogs and all the Assistance Dogs around the world. While it’s crucial to know where we stand today in terms of service and assistance animals, it’s worth it to look back and see how far we’ve come in aiding vulnerable communities with the help of service animals.
Whether you own an Assistance Dog, a Service Dog, or simply a loving pet, dogs and humans share a long history of working together for survival and companionship. Most believe that dogs and humans trace back about 15,000 years in the past with wolves and early humans relying on each other. The first records of dogs being trained to aid individuals with disabilities dates back to the 1700s in Paris. A small group of dogs were trained to help people who were blind. Seeing Eye Dogs set the foundation for what modern day Service Dogs would be.
That instruction wouldn’t take off on a large scale until World War 1, where soldiers were often blinded by poison gasses during the war. In 1916, the first Guide Dog School for the Blind was opened in Goldenburg. Through the next 60 years, other facilities would pop up and continue to work with dogs to aid people who are blind.
However, the credit of founding the term Service Dog is awarded to none other than Paws For Purple Hearts founder, Dr. Bonnie Bergin. In 1975, she founded the world’s first mobility service organization, Canines Companions for Independence. 16 years later, she founded the Assistance Dog Institute, which in 2001 would become the Bergin College of Canine Studies. The Bergin College of Canine studies is the only University to offer an Associate of Science Degree in Human-Canine Life Sciences and Assistant Dog Education.
In 2006, Paws for Purple Hearts began at Bergin College, and has since then placed over a hundred service dogs with our nation’s veterans. Service Dogs today help individuals with PTSD, TBI, Mobility, and a multitude of other conditions regain independence in their day to day life. Today, we extend our appreciation to Assistance, Therapy, Service, and Facility Dogs around the world.
If you’re interested in learning more about our founder Bonnie Bergin, you can read about it in Our History. If you want to continue the legacy Paws For Purple Hearts you can support our Warriors by donating to the cause. Your contribution can be a cornerstone of ensuring that we continue to create history with our Veterans.
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