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Could an assistance dog help you?

Cher_ScopeCher_Scope Community Team Posts: 2,472 Disability Gamechanger
edited August 2020 in Coffee lounge
This week (August 2 - 8 2020) is International Assistance Dog Week!  

This special event was created to highlight the hard working trainers and assistance dogs that help people with a variety of impairments to lead fuller lives.  Over 7,000 people in the UK have an assistance dog, and this BBC news article tells us that training:

Takes a long time and is often very involved. Puppies sometimes start training at six to eight weeks old as they begin to familiarise themselves with their surroundings and learn commands.

All accredited assistance dogs pass the same initial test - a public access test. They also undergo task training which is specific to the disability of the person they will be assisting. 

a golden retriever against a black background

Did you know that there are several different types of assistance dog?

No, me either! Most of us are familiar with guide dogs that help visually impaired or blind people navigate their environment more safely, but what about the others?  The Time for Paws charity website tell us others include:
Assistance dogs that help wheelchair users by picking things up, opening doors and manual tasks.
Hearing dogs for deaf people or those with reduced hearing to alert them to noises.
Support dogs who help comfort people with a wide range of medical conditions such as epilepsy and autism.
Medical detection dogs who are able to detect by smell some diseases.  

Do you have an assistance dog or know someone who does?  How do they help you? 
Tell us your story in the comments below. #ScopeAssistanceDogs 
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Replies

  • PattiDarlingPattiDarling Member Posts: 11 Connected
    how does one get an assistance dog?
  • Badgerfreedom60Badgerfreedom60 Member Posts: 26 Connected
    None of them seem to be taking applications at the moment but I shall be keeping an eye of them, the article above gives links
  • Cher_ScopeCher_Scope Community Team Posts: 2,472 Disability Gamechanger
    Hi @PattiDarling

    There are impairment-specific charities that you would need to apply to, or enquire with, that can be found on this Assistance Dogs UK link > https://www.assistancedogs.org.uk/members/  For instance if you have a hearing problem you would click on the 'Hearing Dogs for Deaf People' icon :)
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  • PattiDarlingPattiDarling Member Posts: 11 Connected
  • WestHam06WestHam06 Community champion, Scope Volunteer Posts: 1,045 Pioneering
    Hi @Cher_Scope
                                 Thank you so much for sharing this with us. I have a friend who has an assistance dog to help with picking items up off of the floor and opening doors as well as other tasks. It is truly inspiring the difference that an assistance dog can make to a wide variety of people with different disabilities. I am in awe of these amazing animals and those who train them, I salute them and thank them for their hard work to help people with disabilities to lead a more independent life. Thank you. 
  • Chloe_ScopeChloe_Scope Scope Posts: 10,680 Disability Gamechanger
    I'm currently in the process of applying for a guide dog. I think it's truly amazing what they can do. 

    I also sponsored a puppy. :)
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  • Hugo_LambHugo_Lamb Member Posts: 12 Courageous
    Hi!  Really wanted to join in on this.  I got a guide dog last year while I had no vision, and while I have since recovered some of it, getting my dog was the best decision I ever made in my life.  Putting the physical help to the side, for me his presence and love he has for me gives me so much confidence to go out as I know he'll be able to help me if I need him.  Aside from that, the training that he had received was far, far superior to what I was expecting.  And I think this goes across for all service dogs - they can do things you really wouldn't believe!  

    Plus, they're a great conversation starter :) 

    The biggest drawback for me is getting taxis.  I can't count how many times I've ordered one and for them to drive off when they see my dog.  I have to get someone I'm with to film them just so I can report it! 
  • Cher_ScopeCher_Scope Community Team Posts: 2,472 Disability Gamechanger
    Aww @Hugo_Lamb Your guide dog sounds like a star.  What is his name?  Also if you have a photo of him I'd love to see it :) 

    I have heard about taxis refusing guide dogs before :(   It is unlawful unless they have a medical exemption certificate so you are doing the right thing reporting it.  
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  • Hugo_LambHugo_Lamb Member Posts: 12 Courageous
    His name is Branston!  I'm afraid this is the only one I've got as the others are all on my phone!  
  • amsoflyamsofly Member Posts: 29 Courageous
    Very cute looking  dog @Hugo_Lamb
  • amsoflyamsofly Member Posts: 29 Courageous
    Thanks to this chat. Very useful information here. Thanks once again Scope.
  • Cher_ScopeCher_Scope Community Team Posts: 2,472 Disability Gamechanger
    @Hugo_Lamb What a beautiful boy Branston is! Gorgeous photo.  You can tell you two have a real bond <3
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  • WestHam06WestHam06 Community champion, Scope Volunteer Posts: 1,045 Pioneering
    Hi @Hugo_Lamb
                                 Thank you so much for sharing your beautiful photo with us. Branston looks as though he is an absolute star and I agree with @Cher_Scope the photo shows you two have a real bond and are best friends. I'm sorry to hear of the difficulties faced for you and Branston with regard to taxi, this really needs to be addressed so good for you for reporting it. Thank you. 
  • atlas47atlas47 Community champion Posts: 118 Pioneering
    Hi @Hugo_Lamb

    Great that you shared the stunning picture of you and Branson.

    Got to say one of you two dudes, is more cool, than Barrack Obama!  Barrack would say, at this stage, I’m talking about “The Branson”

    Have you spoken to Guide Dogs for the blind? Or RNIB about your taxi companies, issues?

    They clearly have little awareness about Guide Dogs.

    ”The Branson” needs to be on You Tube ASAP!"

    Stay kind and be safe.

    PS
    The Branson is my hero.
  • woodbinewoodbine Member Posts: 2,275 Disability Gamechanger
    There are 500,000+ people in the UK with epilepsy, they train 5 dogs a year to assist them, pretty long waiting list !
  • Hugo_LambHugo_Lamb Member Posts: 12 Courageous
    Thanks all.  He is a real lovely boy, although he isn't the bravest and is scared of puddles and pigeons!  

    Guide dogs are very much aware of taxi issues, there was also a recent legal case where a guide dog owner was refused entry to a restaurant.  It's probably getting better but changing awareness is never a quick process.  
  • Chloe_ScopeChloe_Scope Scope Posts: 10,680 Disability Gamechanger
    Thanks for sharing this with us @Hugo_Lamb! I'm so glad your guide dog has made such a positive impact on your life.
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  • Hugo_LambHugo_Lamb Member Posts: 12 Courageous
    Thanks Chloe!  Do you know when you will get yours?  I hope it's not too disrupted by covid! 
  • WestHam06WestHam06 Community champion, Scope Volunteer Posts: 1,045 Pioneering
    Hi @woodbine
                            Thank you for sharing that as I wasn't aware of it. Please may I ask do you know whether they only train 5 dogs a year due to the nature of the training and limited resources in terms of people who can carry out the training or is more to do with factors such as funding? Thank you. 
  • WestHam06WestHam06 Community champion, Scope Volunteer Posts: 1,045 Pioneering
    Hi @Hugo_Lamb
                                Sometimes you don't have to be the bravest to be the best and to be fair pigeons aren't my favourite thing either :) Thank you for sharing your experience, unfortunately you are right change doesn't happen quickly but we must continue to try to educate people. I am really saddened when I read of the experiences with taxis and restaurants, there needs to be a better understanding as it is like saying to me you can't come in this café because you are in a wheelchair. (Don't get me wrong I have experiences of this but I am using it as a principal) My wheelchair supports me to lead an independent life and a guide dog or assistant dog does so for people with a range of disabilities including visual impairments. I hope what I am trying to say comes across as it is meant too and does not cause upset, apologies if it does. Thank you.  
  • woodbinewoodbine Member Posts: 2,275 Disability Gamechanger
    WestHam06 said:
    Hi @woodbine
                            Thank you for sharing that as I wasn't aware of it. Please may I ask do you know whether they only train 5 dogs a year due to the nature of the training and limited resources in terms of people who can carry out the training or is more to do with factors such as funding? Thank you. 
    I think one of the reasons is that the training involves residential course, used to be based in Sheffield not sure if still there ?
  • Hugo_LambHugo_Lamb Member Posts: 12 Courageous
    Hey @WestHam06 I get exactly what you mean - both a guide dog and wheelchair are classified as mobility aids to allow for independence and it is very saddening when ignorant people don't understand. 

    In terms of what you're talking about for epilepsy dogs, I think it's both due to a lack of awareness of this as a service, and therefore a lack of funding, and the high cost of training dogs.  It always comes down to money in the end.  Guide dogs have it sussed with their advertising campaigns (i.e. put pictures of cute puppies and watch the money flood in).   
  • WestHam06WestHam06 Community champion, Scope Volunteer Posts: 1,045 Pioneering
    Hi @Hugo_Lamb,  
                                 Thank you, I really hope that the attitudes towards guide dogs and assistant dogs starts to see change as their are vital life line to those who need them just as my wheelchair is too me. I am looking to develop a presentation and go into schools to talk about disability, mental health and overcoming adversity as I believe there is still such a lack of awareness of lots of different elements to disability. I believe one way to implement change in by educating people but as I say I am in the very early stages of doing this. I agree with what you say about their being a lack of awareness with regard to how specially trained dogs can support people with epilepsy as I wasn't aware of it until @woodbine commented on this post. It's so sad because as you say, like with most things, it all comes down to money. We must continue to strive for change and I thank you for sharing your story with us. Thank you. 
  • Chloe_ScopeChloe_Scope Scope Posts: 10,680 Disability Gamechanger
    Hugo_Lamb said:
    Thanks Chloe!  Do you know when you will get yours?  I hope it's not too disrupted by covid! 
    Hi @Hugo_Lamb, I'm not sure unfortunately! Fingers crossed I wouldn't have to wait too long though. :)
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