The phone rang one Saturday morning and one of our dedicated volunteers answered it.
“Good morning,” the caller said excitedly. “I’m looking for some information about ways service dogs help wheel chair-bound veterans. I am a disabled veteran and am wheelchair-bound. I am tired of having to ask my family members to help me with routine tasks I struggle to perform. Do you train your service dogs to assist those who are wheelchair-bound?”
“We most certainly do,” answered our volunteer. “As a matter of fact, our service dogs are trained to perform over 80 commands some of which are:
Ways Service Dogs Help Wheelchair-Bound Veterans
1. Opening and Closing Doors
Patriot Service Dogs are trained to open cabinet, regular-sized, and refrigerator doors using a small piece of rope or material called a “tug”. They can even close the larger doors by standing on their back legs and pushing the door with their front legs. Likewise, they can close a smaller door by nudging it with their noses. If you need help opening an elevator door or a handicapped-accessible door, our trained service dogs can push the door buttons with their noses.
2. Transporting Items
If you use a manual wheelchair, it can be difficult to maneuver it and carry items, too. Our service dogs are trained to carry grocery bags and other items such as water bottles in their mouths.
3. Pulling a Wheelchair
Your service dog will be able to pull you in your manually-operated wheelchair. However, if pulling you up a slope, he will need some assistance.
4. Operating Lights
Our service dogs can stand on their back legs and use their teeth and paws to turn light switches on and off. Likewise, they can be trained to operate touch lamps or push-button lamps.
5. Removing Apparel
If you need help removing your shoes, socks, pants, or jackets, our service dogs can help by gently tugging the piece of clothing off using their teeth.
6. Retrieving Items
If you are in a wheelchair, it can be difficult to retrieve things you’ve dropped on the floor. Patriot Service Dogs are trained not only to pick things up from the floor at the handler’s request, but also to retrieve new items like medication, a phone, cane, or prosthetic device.
7. Reaching High Counters
Our service dogs can stand on their back legs to place or retrieve items on a high counter you may not be able to access. Likewise, if you have trouble paying the cashier in the store, a service dog can do that for you.
8. Transferring to and from a Wheelchair or Bed
If you have difficulty getting in and out of your wheelchair or bed, the dog can brace himself to provide some stability. We recommend not placing your full weight on the dog because it could eventually cause the dog skeletal problems. Rather, consider getting a sturdy harness to provide a stable handle to limit unnecessary pressure on the service dog.
“I had no idea a service dog could help me with all of those daily tasks that I can’t do myself. Where do I sign up?” asked the caller.
How to Request a Patriot Service Dog
“It’s best to go directly to our website and complete an application for a service dog. One of our staff members will review your application and contact you regarding the status of your request,” replied our volunteer.
“I am going right to your website after we hang up!” the caller exclaimed.
“Just remember that having a service dog is both beneficial and challenging. You must make a commitment and meet certain qualifications such as:
1. You must be an honorably discharged veteran or active military with a disability and or a loss of limb.
2. You must be willing to go through training with the dog and learn all commands.
3. You must be able to provide a safe, loving environment for the service dog, which includes exercise and medical care (about $100.00 per month).
4. You must agree to a home visit from a Patriot Service Dog volunteer approximately 6 weeks after the initial training and to participate in yearly recertification.
“That commitment is a small price to pay for how much easier my life will become once I have a service dog,” the caller commented. “Thanks so much for giving me all of that helpful information. I had no clue about all the ways service dogs help wheelchair-bound veterans.”
A way to help us continue our work at Patriot Service Dogs is to go to our website, make a donation. If you shop online, sign up for Amazon Smile and designate Patriot Service Dogs as your charity. Every time you purchase an item, we will receive a donation from Amazon and it won’t cost you an extra cent.
Patriot Service Dogs, Inc is a 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to helping our disabled military community gain a sense of independence through their partnership with a well-trained service dog. Our focus is placing service dogs with disabled active, retired or medically discharged military who have given so much for our freedom. We were formed in July of 2009 in Central Florida with initial offices in Jacksonville & Belleview. At the time of our incorporation, we had 7 founding members with an active and dedicated board. To get more informative updates about our organization, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter. We welcome your suggestions as well as financial support through our Donate button on this website. If you are interested in volunteering, contact us at 352-514-9903, and we’ll gladly find a spot for you. We hope you will share our blog posts with your family and friends.