Cost/Benefit Analysis–An Assistance Dog

I was told the other day that “Caring for an assistance animal is more effort than what the animal can provide in assistance.”

OK, I am open minded, so I asked what they thought was involved in the care. I got the following:
1. Feeding
2. Walks and exercise
3. Grooming
4. Vet care
These are all pretty easy to address. Yes, animals need to be fed. In the case of assistance dogs, that is usually twice a day. Both times happen to coincide with the needs of the person involved. I have heard from several people that it is their dog’s needs that often force them to get started for the day. It is also their dog’s needs for food that remind them to eat their meals. I have yet to meet anyone that doesn’t have volunteers pouring our of the woodwork to help with simple things like feeding a wonderful assistance dog.

Walks and exercise. Again, this goes hand in hand, so to say, with a person’s needs. Even the most handicapped person needs some fresh air and time outside. However, this also goes back to volunteers. So many co-workers and neighbors are glad to take a well trained dog for a walk and for some toileting.

Grooming is usually a perfect physical therapy tasks. In cases where nail trimming or other grooming is needed, the volunteers will also come out.

Vet care can be expensive, but I have always found vets that are happy to donate services.

I guess it really comes down to the fact that there is always help available when dealing with a service animal like a service dog.

What can they do to help? Well that list is LONG, but here are a few things:

  1. Open doors
  2. Turn lights on and off
  3. Pick up dropped items (this is probably the most valuable tasks for most people)
  4. Pull a chair
  5. Provide a brace to help stand for those that are not chair bound
  6. Bark, and loudly, when you need help, to alert others
  7. Help with handing money and credit cards to cashiers
  8. Pulling open drawers in the kitchen and at work
  9. Motivation to start the day
  10. Companionship – All pet owners can relate to this, dogs are part of the family, and they make the perfect bound. Not only are they man’s best friend, but they are the conduit to meeting so many other people. They are conversation starters, and they provide the reason for people to just come over and say hello.

I remember the first time that I talked to a lawyer that had an assistance dog. He said that having his dog helped him tremendously with just the simple task of picking up the pencils and pens that he dropped during the day. Prior to having his dog, he had to call his assistant to come into his office and pick up all of the dropped items. He felt it was demeaning to his assistant to have to crawl around the floor. His dog, however, was more than happy to help.

I think it is really simple, a good service dog is well worth the day to day effort.

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