The New Breed of Service Dog

There’s a new breed of service dog in town.

As dog owners, we all know how empty our homes (let alone our lives) are without the heartbeat of a dog in it. Imagine the void filled by a dog for people whose children have grown, perhaps moved away, and who may be elderly, isolated, or both. In 2012, a program was developed in Scotland in which dogs are trained specifically for older folks, and those who may be coping with dementia or Alzheimer. The program was developed by Alzheimer Scotland, Dogs for the Disabled, and Guide Dogs Scotland, and it’s not the only one geared towards placing dogs with the older citizens among us.

The new breed of service dog is a canine caregiver for the elderly, and for those suffering from dementia and Alzheimers. As far as we can tell, it was Israeli social worker Dafna Golan-Shemesh, and her partner, dog trainer,Yariv Ben Yosef, who were the first to come up with the concept of service dogs for those suffering from degenerative brain disease, typically the elderly. Later, the Glasgow School of Art in Scotland created the Dementia Dog Project to further explore the benefits a guide dog for dementia patients. Some programs are localized, such as PAWS’ Seniors for Seniors program open to residents of Washington State, others, like Assistance Dogs of America and Pets for the Elderly Foundation, are national. Muttsville’s Seniors for Seniors Program pairs senior dogs with senior people, and despite its name, purebred dogs are part of the program.

Dogs for the elderly is a good thing.

For a nice primer on what you need to know about getting a service dog, read, “How to Get a Service Dog, Everything You Need to Know.”

Image found on Pinterest and happily credited upon receipt of information


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