This week is International Assistance Dog Week; it was created to recognize all the devoted, hardworking assistance dogs that help individuals with physical or mental disabilities navigate society. Assistance dogs change the lives of their human counterparts by serving as their companion, helper, aide, and close family member.
There are many hurdles still being faced throughout the world when it comes to the recognition and acceptance of service dogs and the hard work they do. These dogs play a big role in society by providing accessibility and safety for their human companions, which is why education about them and movements like International Assistance Dog Week exist.
I don’t have firsthand experience with assistance dogs outside of knowing people who utilize their services. We do, however, have a member of staff with a working dog. Jay was kind enough to write the following to give more insight on the processes in Alberta to certify an assistance dog, and how his dog has helped him.
Jay and Amp
“Many people are unaware of our laws and regulations, causing problems for certified teams. Fake service dogs and uneducated business owners cause access issues for certified teams in Alberta.
In Alberta, we have an official service dog certification process. The public access test, once passed, grants public access rights to a disabled person and their task-trained service dog. The dog must be over the age of two, altered, have impeccable manners, be house trained, and perform three specific tasks to mitigate their handler’s disabilities.
My service dog, Amp, and I trained since he was four months old for 14+ hours a week in order for us to pass our provincial exam. Amp is a Brittany Spaniel, a dog utilized in upland hunting to point pheasants and similar birds in the same fashion as a German Shorthaired Pointer. While this is an incredibly unusual breed for service work, Amp had the specific temperament that has allowed him to become such an incredible working dog.
He worked side by side with me in my previous work as a cabinet maker, alerting me to medical episodes and retrieving emergency medicine. I couldn't ask for a better partner.”
As stated above, getting a service dog certified is quite a bit of work and even when everything necessary is done there are still daily hurdles to jump due to misinformation and those who have uncertified dogs that they pass off as certified. Assistance dogs play a much-needed role in our society when it comes to improving the lives of those who require their services.
We hope this article has given you more insight and awareness about service dogs and the processes required to certify them!