Mobility Assistance Dogs: A Constant Companion

Want proof that dogs are man’s best friend?  Watch an assistance dog in action.

Assistance dogs are canines that have been trained to help a person with a specific impairment or disability.  The most common is the “seeing eye” dog for those who are blind.  In addition, there are also hearing dogs and service dogs.

Service dogs applies to any dog that helps with a disability outside of sight and sound.  This includes dogs that help people in wheelchairs.  These dogs are called mobility assistance dogs.

What Mobility Assistance Dogs Do

A mobility assistance dog is trained to help their owner in a variety of ways.  This includes picking up objects, opening doors, closing doors, and even turning the lights on and off.  In some cases, larger mobility assistance dogs will even help pull people’s wheelchairs via a harness.

Just like all other assistance dogs, mobility assistance dogs are allowed in public transportation, restaurants, and other places dogs are not typically allowed.  This is a right guaranteed by the Americans with Disabilities Act.

If you are in a wheelchair and find yourself in need of a constant companion, a mobility assistance dog might be a great option for you.  And we’re sure they have no problem riding around in handicap vans.

History of Assistance Dogs

Though they existed beforehand, it wasn’t until WW1 that seeing eye became regularly used.  Even then, assistance dogs didn’t branch out to other services till the 70’s.  It was then that dogs began helping with those who had trouble hearing or walking.

The concept of a “service dog” was popularized by a woman named Dr. Bonnie Bergin.  Dr. Bergin helped work on the Americans with Disabilities Act, defining both “service” and “assistance” dogs and the rights they had.  This included the ability to go into places other pets weren’t allowed.

Today, it is estimated that over 20,000 people use assistance dogs to help them in their day to day life.

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