Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Sitting in the Dark No More or It's the Little Things

Shiloh wheelchair pulling.
From Shiloh, Summit Assistance Dog
People are used to only hearing about service dogs when they do something considered heroic like call 9-1-1 or lead their person out of danger; while these events are important they usually only come to pass a few times in the span of a partnership. For myself and most other human halves of service dog, it is the everyday, ordinary assistance their partner provides that allows them to do things their disability makes extremely difficult, dangerous, and/or impossible without their service dog.
Shilo makes it possible for me to:
  • Get through doors without having to make multiple attempts to get the door open wide enough to catch the frame with my chair, smashing my toes and/or fingers, and not having to wonder whether opening this door will cause my failing shoulder to spasm rendering it useless for an indeterminable amount of time. 
  •  Turn lights on/off as needed. Before service dogs I would often opt to either try and function in the dark or leave lights on because it was too difficult reach the lights. Not being able to see to  maneuver is especially dangerous for people  with balance problems like me. Shilo has learned to turn lights on/off as needed learning to turn on or off lights just behind or in front of my path.
  • Retrieve Items. It is true that service dogs retrieve and return items dropped by their partners but their can also retrieve items from out of reach, difficult to get to, or far away spots.
  • Be alone and still know if the worst happens someone is there who can and will help. Many people with disabilities long ago reluctantly resigned themselves to the fact that they couldn't have any real privacy or enjoy being alone, because being alone meant the fear of falling or having a medical incident with no one around to help. When one has a service there is always someone around whose main focus and concern is you and who is trained to do something about such dangerous happenings.
  • Meeting your own needs and wants when you have them. Many disabilities make it extremely difficult or impossible to answer one's basic needs or tasks of personal comfort without assistance such as putting clothes on/off and to regulate body temperature, getting something to drink or eat, changing body position by  assisting in sitting up, rolling over, or shifting positions.Service dogs are often trained with these types of activities.


ROC said...

OH YES! Well said! Twice my partner has saved my life in that "classic" way, yet I consider those moments FAR less precious then the daily beat with him at my side.

Melissa Mitchell said...

heard and noted:)