When you think of a Service or Protection Dog, what comes to mind? A beautiful German Shepherd wearing a harness with a handle, guiding a blind person or an attentive Labrador helping someone who is deaf or in a wheelchair.
Dogs have been known as man’s best friend for a long time. Now more than ever, this is true, as we become more familiar with the human-animal bond, we find more ways that the relationship between a human and a dog can actually help to heal the human. Dogs are now visiting nursing homes and hospitals and helping to bring moments of peace and happiness to someone who is lonely or in pain.
Any person who has been through a traumatic experience can suffer pain in the form of depression and post traumatic stress syndrome. Women who have been assaulted or abused can suffer also from repressed feelings of guilt and shame. These feelings can literally take someone’s life away. It becomes hard to perform simple tasks and going into public can become impossible without bringing on anxiety attacks. This causes the person to be isolated which aggravates the depression. A woman will also be afraid to go out alone because she can no longer trust her fellow human and she feels vulnerable.
A German Shepherd that has been specially trained to assist and protect a person can be a vital key to giving this woman her life back. The dog, if trained and certified as a Service and Protection Dog will be able to accompany the woman into all public places and help make her feel more comfortable and safe as well as being a friend to lean on if an anxiety attack should happen. The training is custom tailored to the individual client as each person has special needs and the dog will learn cues to help a person leave an uncomfortable situation.
The trainer really takes on a dual role as trainer and handler of the Service Dog during the training process and must also be familiar in helping the woman learn to handle and trust the dog and will play an important role in helping the woman to make her first trips out in public. The trainer will need to be familiar with the psychiatric needs of a patient with post traumatic stress disorder and will assist the person if they need medication or experience an anxiety attack in public. It is a lot to learn to handle the dog and deal with all of the feelings of being out in public, so the handler/trainer must assist the person if needed.
The Service Dog will become extremely bonded to its new owner, as the German Shepherd has an uncanny ability to sense the needs of a human and will adapt it’s training to very specific needs of each client.
Gatorland K-9 and Ted & Dawn Hoppe are proud to offer our German Shepherd’s to help with this very specialized role of Service Dogs.