10 Amazing Assistance Dogs Nominated For SuperDog Awards
Put the champagne on ice! It is time to celebrate the many four-legged, furry heroes out there helping their humans to get through their day. It is time to celebrate all the amazing Assistance Dogs out there.
Wednesday, 4 August is National Assistance Dog Day and seldom has there been a day more worth celebrating.
These extraordinary dogs help people with disabilities like those with a visual or hearing impairment, there are dogs helping children and adults suffering from autism, and military vets suffering from PTSD, to name just a few.
Stories about how Assistance Dogs have changed, and many times saved the lives of their humans truly tugs at the heartstrings, bringing hope for a more independent life to those living with restrictions and gratitude from us all for these remarkable dogs.
Meet ten of the very special Assistance Dogs that have been nominated for this year's Naturo SuperDog Awards:
1. Poppy - the autism support hero
Poppy’s owner, Amelia has autism, is bipolar and has Retinitis Pigmentosa, which means she has restricted peripheral vision and night blindness. Before Amelia had Poppy in her life, she did not leave the house for four years. She had suicidal thoughts and self-harmed. Since she has Poppy in her life, Amelia has returned to college and has regained a lot of confidence.
Read More: Ryder the autism dog wears his joy on the outside.
Poppy guides Amelia physically through her daily life by guiding her around obstacles and helps her find objets. She even attends college with Amelia. Not only does she help her physically, Poppy also senses when Amelia is going to have a panic attack and helps her calm down by providing deep pressure therapy by lying on her. Amelia says “If it wasn’t for Poppy I wouldn’t be here today.”
2. Mishka - the therapist
Then there is Mishka. She has not only helped one person, Mishka is a therapy dog that works with Sled Dogs As Therapy UK. Over the last six years, Mishka has helped adults and children with mental health issues, she has worked at care homes and schools. As Mishka’s owner says “Many smiles and tears are owed to her because she was tender, many people have found it easier to express themselves because she helped their confidence and was there when they had no one. Many children have found it easier to connect because she was gentle. She is a truly special therapy dog.”
3. Bert Snuggs - the rescued becomes the rescuer
Bert’s owner was a police officer for 21 years. She damaged her leg and was diagnosed with severe PTSD and almost committed suicide. Bett was a rescue dog, saved by Dogs Trust and Service Dogs saw his potential. Bert’s owner says “I met Bert who looked deep down in my soul and he just knew I needed saving. We’ve been partnered now for two years and he’s turned my life around. He’s a goofball but also sensitive to my needs.”
4. Digby - the unlikely Assistance Dog
Dalmatians are not usually known for being Assistance Dogs but Digby is really special and is a qualified disability assistance dog. Digby’s human, Katie, has a rare condition that causes muscle weakness. The very clever Digby helps her with tasks like opening doors, picking up items Katie may have dropped and even emptying out the washing machine!
Read More: 'Designer Dalmatians Bring Smiles All Round.'
5. Rowley - the amazing detector
Rowley’s owner, Megan, suffers from a variety of disabilities as a result of a skull fracture. She suffers from imbalances, dizziness, is deaf in her left ear, she is legally blind and faints regularly. Not only does Rowley help Megan with daily tasks like fetching things, picking things up, opening doors and untying her shoes, Rowley also detects by smell if Megan is about to collapse.
By using his excellent sense of smell, Rowley picks up the scent of minute biochemical changes that occur in Megan’s body a few minutes before she faints. He warns her in time before she gets unconscious to get to a safe place to lay down and call someone for assistance. Over the last three years, Rowley has alerted Megan to over 3,000 oncoming fainting episodes.
There are also the human heroes that spend their time and expertise to train the four-legged heroes and who offer support for those in need.
Let’s take a closer look at some of these individuals and organisations that make a difference in so many people’s lives.
6. The Dementia Dog Project
The Dementia Dog Project provides dog-focussed services both in the home and community environment for people living with dementia and their carers.
Read More: Review of Noel Fitzpatrick's book 'How Animals Saved My Life. Being the Supervet'.
The organisation provides both training to an existing family pet to assist a family member suffering from dementia and provides training to a full-time assistance dog. The dogs are trained to support the owner with daily routines such as walking, eating, taking medications, exercise, socialising and sleeping patterns.
7. Autism Dogs CIC
Autism Dogs CIC has a team of highly qualified people training Assistance Dogs to help people with autism improve their lives. This dedicated team works tirelessly to provide dogs that are trained to help people with autism. They also come into people’s homes and train their own dog to learn core skills to help at home.
8. Dogs for Good
Dogs For Good makes life-changing differences for people with disabilities through the power of expertly trained dogs. They provide assistance dogs to people with disabilities of all ages and from all walks of life.
9. Pets as Therapy
Pets As Therapy is a network of volunteers who bring their dogs to hospitals, schools and homes for the elderly to brighten up the days of people who need a smile and to experience the love of our four-legged friends.
Read More: Pets As Therapy - 10 Reasons To Volunteer
10. Southampton Children’s Hospital Therapy Dogs
Leo, Jessie, Archie, Hattie, Quinn, Milo and Pollyanna are a team of Golden Retrievers providing Animal Assisted Intervention at the Southampton Children’s Hospital. These amazing dogs visit patients regularly and assist with, for example, calming anxiety before surgery.
Even during the lockdown, this special team did not stop bringing joy to the children. They did regular Zoom sessions and visits to the wards.
Meet all the nominees by visiting the Naturo SuperDog Awards website and vote for your favourites to help them make it to the finals.
Ready for some summer fun? Join us at The Big Dog Walk, it's not just a walk!
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