Training Great Dogs to Help Special People
The volunteers at Canine Assistants have been working since 1991 to improve the lives of children and adults with physical disabilities, seizure conditions, or other special needs. Founded by Jennifer Arnold, who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis as a teenager, this non-profit organization trains and provides service dogs, seizure response dogs, and companion dogs to eligible applicants living in the Atlanta area. Because Jennifer fully understands the challenges of living with a life-changing diagnosis, she is inspired to provide others with the gift of unconditional love and acceptance offered by specially trained service dogs.
Hurricane Harvey Relief Effort
Canine Assistants is supporting “Austin Pets Alive!” with their commitment to rescue and transport as many animals as possible that have been displaced during Hurricane Harvey in Houston, Texas. The intake process alone will cost them over $20,000 for the course of the relief effort in Houston and the surrounding areas. The organization has rescued over 300 animals, and that number continues to grow by the hour. “Austin Pets Alive!” is keeping their evacuation blog up to date on their needs and Canine Assistants will be purchasing and sending necessary items in the upcoming weeks. Please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to assist with food, vaccinations and simply the care of animals displaced by Hurricane Harvey until they can be reunited with their owners or adopted to a loving family.
Canine Assistants service dogs assist children and adults with physical disabilities or other special needs in a variety of ways. Some of the tasks our dogs perform include turning lights on and off, opening and closing doors, pulling wheelchairs, retrieving dropped objects, summoning help, and providing secure companionship. While all of these functions are vitally important in helping a person obtain greater freedom, perhaps the most impressive gift our dogs provide is social, rather than physical, in nature. The dogs eliminate feelings of fear, isolation, and loneliness felt by their companions. One Canine Assistants recipient made the value of this gift quite clear when asked by a reporter what she liked most about her service dog. Immediately, she responded, “My dog makes my wheelchair disappear.” Most Canine Assistants service dogs are born, raised, and educated at our facility in Milton, Georgia, while some are occasionally adopted from local organizations or breeders. The majority of our service dogs are Golden Retrievers, Labradors and Golden Doodles.
K-9 Kids Reading Program
Canine Assistants are also serving as academic ambassadors for children in the Atlanta area. Through the K-9 Kids Reading Program, trained service dogs visit schools each week to listen to students read. Children sometimes feel ill at ease reading in front of peers, but they are quite comfortable reading to a supportive, nurturing dog. In addition to helping kids overcome reading challenges, the K-9 Kids program is helping to boost overall academic achievement, motivation, self-esteem, and confidence among participants. The national media has taken an interest in K-9 Kids, with segments airing on NBC Nightly News and CNN.
National Volunteer Program
Canine Assistants has developed a National Volunteer Program, Noah’s Team, which is designed to raise awareness about service dogs and many ways they assist people who have physical disabilities, seizures, or other special needs. Teams of volunteers engage their local communities in a variety of ways including presenting educational information to schools, hospitals, and other organizations. Noah’s Team volunteers also organize fundraisers to benefit various programs and future recipients.
How Can You Help?
We are so glad you asked! Through Canine Assistants, recipients do not pay for their service dogs – they adopt them. Canine Assistants covers the lifelong cost of training, food, and medical care for each dog through sponsorships for recipients who cannot afford it. Since the inception of Canine Assistants, more than 1500 assistance dogs have been placed into the homes of appreciative families. Another fun fact: at Canine Assistants, the dogs pick their companion – not the other way around!
If you live in the Atlanta area and would like to become a hands-on contributor to the amazing work Jennifer and her team are doing to make a difference in the lives of others, there are MANY opportunities for local volunteers. If you are inspired (as we here at 4Knines are) by the volunteers, dogs, and recipients associated with Canine Assistants, there are SIX OPTIONS to help this nonprofit achieve their goal of helping as many people as possible.
Would you like to make a personal impact on a service dog that will grow up and be a companion for a recipient in need?
Consider sponsoring a puppy! When you sponsor a puppy, your tax-deductible donation goes toward their care and basic needs until they are matched at recipient camp.
When you sponsor a puppy, you get updates about how they are doing and fun pictures of outings until they graduate!
The power of unconditional love and acceptance is truly a wondrous thing. This holiday season, let’s all do our part!