Recently, former President George H.W. Bush, 94, added a new member to his family. No, we’re not talking about a grandchild or even a great grandchild. We’re talking about his adorable yellow Labrador, Sully. But, Sully isn’t just your average pet. Instead, he serves as Bush’s service dog. Sully is specially trained to aid Bush, who uses a wheelchair and has a form of Parkinson’s disease, with various tasks throughout his day. In addition to aiding the former president, Sully will also help bring attention to the important work that service dogs do for people. Thinking about getting a service dog for your aging relative? Here are 5 things to consider before you make the decision.
#1 Service Dogs are Regulated by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
Under the ADA, to be considered a service animal, the dog must be specially trained to perform tasks for an individual who has a disability. However, your aging relative is not required to carry any kind of identification or paperwork that proves it is a service dog. Avoid online companies that offer to provide documentation or certification for a fee. The documents provided by these companies don’t give the disabled person or the dog any special rights or protections. In addition, though it can be helpful for the dog to wear a service dog vest, they are not required for the dog to gain access to public places.
#2 There May Be a Wait
Training a service dog takes a lot of time. It can take 18 to 24 months of intensive training for the dog to be ready to begin its job. In addition to time, it also costs a lot of money. According to AARP, it costs about $50,000 for organizations that train service animals to get and train the dog. While there are some organizations that provide service dogs for free under certain circumstances, you may have to purchase the dog, which can be costly. Organizations may have a wait time as long as 2.5 years.
#3 Service Dogs Can Do Many Things
Service dogs can be trained to do a wide variety of tasks, including:
- Turning on lights.
- Retrieving dropped items.
- Reminding the person to take their medicine.
- Pull a wheelchair or offer support for walking.
- Alert the person to sounds, like a smoke alarm.
#4 Any Breed Can Be a Service Dog
The ADA does not specify breeds that can be service dogs, so any breed is acceptable. Certain breeds are the “go to” dogs for service animals, like Labradors and Golden Retrievers. Since any breed may be used, seniors with allergies can be matched with breeds that pose less of a problem, like Poodles or “Doodles” (Poodle mixes).
#5 Senior Care Can Assist with Caring for the Dog
If you’re worried about your older family member being able to take care of the dog, you needn’t be. Senior care can help them with basic care, like feeding and watering. Senior care providers can also drive older adults and their service dogs to the vet for checkups. Senior care providers can even take the dog outside to do its business when needed.
If you or an aging loved one are considering senior care in Manchester, NJ, contact the caring staff at Care Street Home Care’s Ocean/Monmouth Division. Call today 732-719-7011.