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Veterans Health Administration


Assistance Dogs Transform Lives of Veteran Partners

Guide dog golden retriever standing next to a man


It’s “Assistance Dog Week” August 5-11, 2012

This is International Assistance Dog Week, created to recognize all the devoted, hardworking assistance dogs helping individuals mitigate their disability related limitations.

Many Veterans are living more fulfilled lives thanks to their service dog. VA prescribing clinicians review and evaluate individual cases based on the needs described here:

Assistance dogs transform the lives of their Veteran partners with debilitating physical disabilities. These highly specialized dogs perform tasks for the Veterans that the Veteran cannot perform without assistance.

“If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die, I want to go where they went.”

— Will Rogers

Guide Dogs assist blind and visually impaired Veterans avoid obstacles, stop at curbs and steps, and negotiate traffic. These exceptional dogs enable the Veteran to more fully participate in their communities by ensuring that the Veteran can safely negotiate almost any environment.

Hearing Dogs assist deaf and hard of hearing individuals by alerting them to a variety of household sounds such as a door knock or doorbell, alarm clock, oven buzzer, telephone, baby cry, name call or smoke alarm, as well as alerting the Veteran to emergency vehicle sirens or warning alarms outside the home.

Mobility Dogs assist mobility-impaired Veterans, including Veterans with disabling seizures, by retrieving objects that are out of the Veteran’s reach, opening and closing doors, turning light switches on and off, assisting Veterans to walk by providing balance and counterbalance, barking to indicate help is needed, finding another person, and leading the person to the handler.

For more information on Assistance Dog Week and what you can do in your community: