Disabled & Chronic Illness Program
Our mission also calls for us to provide service dogs to those with disabilities or illnesses unrelated to the military. This includes people with multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, and those with physical or mental impairments caused by illness, accident or disease. People whose illnesses keep them from having mobile or independent lives are great candidates for service dogs, because these dogs can do so much for them.
The needs for these individuals vary, as does the training. For those wheelchair bound, service dogs are trained to do many things, including opening and closing doors, pulling wheelchairs for short distances, turning lights on and off, opening and closing refrigerators and removing specific objects (a can of soda or a bottle of water), and retrieving dropped or distant objects.
For those who are mobile, their needs may require constant help with balance, walking in a straight line, becoming the "ears" for someone who has lost their hearing, retrieving prosthetics for someone who has lost a limb, or picking up something that has been dropped. And again, the love and comfort of a dog cannot be underestimated as part of a person's day-to-day well-being.