By Carolyn Bower ~
There’s a long-standing belief that dogs are a man’s best friend.
But they are much more than that to many children with serious medical challenges.
• Chelsea is a young lady with diabetes. With the assistance of Josette, her service dog, she is better able to control her condition. Josette is trained to alert her to check her blood glucose levels. One time, Josette saved the day when the electric glucose monitor had an error reading. The dog alerted the family to recheck levels.
• Austin’s life improved with the assistance of his service dog, Paris. Austin has a brain seizure/epilepsy condition, and Paris can also smell chemical changes in Austin and alert others when a seizure is about to occur. Paris can notice behavior problems; he places his paw on Austin’s lap to help him relax and focus.
• Matthew’s Asperger’s Syndrome, a developmental disorder on the Autism Spectrum, has sometimes caused him to cry when in a crowd. He can become stressed and withdrawn. Quincy, his specially trained service dog, can calm Matthew by giving him kisses. He also helps Matthew with interactions in public and aids in his completing certain tasks.
Chelsea, Austin, and Matthew are among the many children throughout the country whose lives have been enhanced by the non-profit organization Canines for Kids. The organization, founded in 1998, provides free services to families by connecting children with medical conditions to service dogs. Their mission is to promote independence and overcome limitations caused by medical issues.
Canines for Kids offers assistance in several areas: Therapy Dogs, Autism/Social Service Dogs, Dogs for Psychiatric Disabilities, Guide Dogs for the Blind and Hearing-Impaired, and Mobility Services. They provide educational presentations and consulting to schools and civic groups at no cost, and work with more than 200 training programs nationwide to ensure the service dogs are trained according to the needs of the child.
Service dogs make a difference to children and their families who deal with physical and psychological challenges. As one of the children said, “I love my dog because he helps me with a lot of things I can’t control.”
For more information about Canines for Kids, and the scholarships it offers, visit https://caninesforkids.org/.