Client-Dog teams consist of a person living with a disability—such as hearing loss, Multiple Sclerosis, Muscular Dystrophy, Cerebral Palsy, or spinal cord injury —with a highly trained dog.
Whether a Hearing Dog is alerting a deaf mother to her baby’s cry, or a Service Dog is picking up a dropped set of car keys for its quadriplegic partner, our strays turned stars provide increased independence, security and unconditional love to exceptional individuals who strive to live life to the fullest.
SDI places dogs with veterans and other adult clients who are at least 25 years of age and capable of handling a dog in public without assistance. There is no charge for our dogs. Once placed, we provide ongoing lifetime support and hands-on assistance to all of the Client-Dog teams.
Types of Dogs We Provide
All SDI dogs are trained for full public access. (We do not train dogs for in-home use only.) This means our dogs are legally able to right to accompany their partners to the grocery store, airport, place of employment or school, restaurants, and other public places.
This means the public behavior of the dog must be rock-solid. An assistance dog must not solicit attention or cause disturbances in public. Its attention must be focused on the partner, and it must be able to ignore distractions such as birds, squirrels or another dog. It also must remain calm in crowds and environments that may not be dog-friendly such as elevators, airports, meetings and offices. SDI tests each team annually to recertify their public access skills and assure training is maintained.
A Service Dog is trained to perform a minimum of three custom tasks for a person with a disability. The exact behaviors are tailored to the individual but common ones are retrieving dropped objects, opening doors, towing a lightweight wheelchair, bringing assistive devices such as canes or walkers, going for help, and carrying light items. In addition, Service Dogs often help their partners be more active, more comfortable in public, and more able to connect with others.
A Hearing Dog helps a person with hearing loss respond to the myriad of sounds in daily life that provide connection and safety. This ranges from someone calling their name to telephones, alarms, doorbells and buzzers that need a response. A Hearing Dog alerts a partner to a sound by touching them. Then it leads its partner to the source of the sound. Some sounds must be trained individually, such as a particular telephone ring. Others, like a door knock or a child’s call, are trained in the client’s environment. As devices such as cochlear implants or hearing aids cannot be worn 24 hours a day, a Hearing Dog provides comfort and reassurance as well as companionship.