Assistance dogs are popular with many families in the SMA Community. An assistance dog could help you with practical tasks such as:
- picking up dropped items like your mobile, or remote control
- opening and closing doors
- helping with dressing and undressing
- helping with physiotherapy routines
- pressing the button at a pedestrian crossing
- reaching up to shop counters.
This can mean that you’re less reliant on other people for some of your day-to-day activities.
If you’re in charge of your working dog’s care and training, it could also help you increase your confidence (though you may not need this!) and, as with many dogs, provide loyal and unconditional friendship and company. Dogs are also a great ice breaker and way of meeting and talking to people when you’re out and about. Registered assistance dogs should be allowed to go with their owner into many public places, such as shops, restaurants and to travel on public transport.
There is however a ‘but’, which is that an assistance dog is a serious commitment that needs a lot of thought and planning.
If you’re interested, there are several organisations that can give advice. Some train and provide their own dogs; others provide training for people who already have a pet dog. Each organisation has its own eligibility criteria, application process and training schemes and can give information and advice about the responsibilities of dog owners as well:
- Assistance Dogs UK - www.assistancedogs.org.uk
- Dog AID - www.dogaid.org.uk
- Dogs for Good (formerly Dogs for the Disabled) - www.dogsforgood.org
- Support Dogs - www.supportdogs.org.uk
Page last reviewed / updated: March 2021
Next review due: March 2022