Many people, when they first hear about service dogs, have an idea that getting a specially trained dog will change their
lives dramatically. This much is true. Including a dog into one's life does cause dramatic changes. Changes
always mean Adjustments. The adjustments one must make to accomodate a service dog can be quite dramatic also.
When exploring the idea of getting a service dog, a person must seriously consider how this will change their life, and
what adjustments they will have to make. There is a big difference between the idea of a service dog and the actual
responsibility of a live animal. Service dogs are specially trained, but they are still dogs, and they are still animals.
They do not work like machines, and they cannot be put on the shelf when you are not using them.
The responsibility of caring for a live animal is emotionally, physically, and financially an investment. For a
person with challenges already, which require time, planning, and strategy for normal activities of daily living, including
the care of a dog increases the time, planning and strategy needed for every activity.
While personal care attendants may aid you in many of your daily tasks, the primary activities of caring for a service
dog need to be done by the human partner. The dog helps to take care of you, and in return, the dog needs to know that
you are taking care of her or him. For the bonding of the team to take place, the human partner needs to be the most
important person in the dog's life.
If you are thinking of exploring getting a service dog, there are some questions you need to be able to answer for yourself.
Are you prepared to be completely responsible for the life, health, safety, care and needs of a living being? This animal
will be your responsibility 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
Yes, it does sound a little like getting married. But in fact, getting a service dog is more intense than getting
married. A human partner will take care of many of their own needs, and have activities that do not include you.
A service dog partner will be like your shadow, always there, always your responsibility.
There are usually specific criteria you must be able to meet to be accepted into the application process for a service
dog. Here are some examples of this criteria: