Disability Assistance Dogs

Rebecca Toal's avatar

by Rebecca Toal

Several months ago, I spent hours one morning calling and emailing all the disability assistance dog charities that I could find, in Ireland, Northern Ireland, and UK wide.

I had seen an awesome video of a little girl with cerebral palsy on one of the charities websites, she was using a ‘mobility assistance’ doggy with a harness to hold onto whilst walking. I thought, my goodness!

How wonderful would this be for my Brielle who also has cerebral palsy, and uses a walker but can walk hand-held?

Having a canine-friend and mobility partner would open up so many opportunities for her- independence, confidence, peer-integration, companionship!

It would be fantastic if we could get a dog trained not only to wear a harness but serve as a guide dog, too. Brielle is also severely visually impaired.

I was left quite deflated after sending emails, online messages and making phone calls to all the charities- we were either living in the wrong region, or there was currently such a high demand for these dogs, that we weren’t even able to go onto a waiting list! 

I’ve mentioned to our social worker and also Brielle’s mobility specialist so they’ve said they’ll look into it, too.

Why is it that support and disability assistance is SO hard to come by? I think part of the issue is that there’s no funding.

So many of these charities are relying on generous donations to fund their services. The government really don’t put any priority on equal access or equality for people with disabilities.

The people in power reckon that there are all these charities to fill the HUGE gap in resources and equipment that children with special needs, need. Leave them to it!

It’s really easy to get overwhelmed and disheartened as a parent, and feel as if you’re an island, as if no one knows what you’re dealing with, and no one cares. I’ve been there MANY times!

We need to rally together and support each other during these times. And find friends and professionals who really do care!

If no charities are able to train and fund an assistance dog, as a family we may look at finding someone to train a dog privately. But I have NO idea how to go about this, either!

I would be so grateful if anyone reading this has any experience or advice regarding finding/training/funding a disability or mobility assistance dog.

I’d really love to hear your success stories, too. 

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