Service dogs are specially trained to perform tasks that help an individual with a disability. Service dogs are often used to help the blind, but they can help with a wide range of multiple sclerosis challenges.
If you’ve never considered the possibilities, here are 10 ways a service dog can help you deal with MS.
- Help with balance and walking
- Pull a wheelchair or guide a walker
- Pick up dropped items or bring you the phone
- Help address visual or auditory limitations
- Open doors and turn on lights
- Respond to changes in your health
- Provide warning or protection from danger, such as fires or strangers
- Provide a source of fun that elevates your mood and helps overcome depression
- Help you engage with people and get some basic exercise
- Preserve your independence.
Before you get a dog, there are a few considerations:
Do you like large dogs (like a Labrador Retriever/Golden Retriever/Great Dane)?
Can you care for a dog or get help?
Are you willing to help train your dog?
If you do decide to get a dog, you can use an assistance dog organization or professional trainer. If you have the patience, ability and modest needs, you can also go the do-it-yourself route. The DIY end result may not be as polished, but teaching a loving mutt some useful tricks could be rewarding.
If you’re interested in more information or would like to find a service dog, the website MSbeyondmeds has a special focus on service dogs for multiple sclerosis. For more general information on service dogs, trainers and possible funding options, try servicedogcentral.org, Canine Companions for Independence, or the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.
Assistive technology should always be this fun.
Yours truly, and still not dead yet, S.H.