You’re probably aware of the wide range of mobility aids that are available on the market (if not, check out our products page). But one you might not have considered might also have the capacity to become your “best friend” – that’s right, a dog.
More specifically, of course, we’re talking about mobility assistance dogs – four-legged friends who are trained to help people with mobility issues and disabilities to accomplish a number of tasks. And, while mobility assistance dogs aren’t as well known as their brethren, guide dogs, we thought we’d take the opportunity to bring them to your attention: they might be the perfect thing to help you regain or maintain your independence.
‘Mobility assistance dogs’ is a broad category – depending on how they’re trained they can partner with individuals who use scooters, wheelchairs, canes, crutches, prosthetic limbs, and more. And they can work within a range of other contexts: people who have Parkinson’s disease, severe arthritis, cerebral palsy, and more, can all use mobile assistance dogs. But while exactly what they do and how they do it depends on their trainer and owner, there is one commonality: first and foremost, mobility assistance dogs help people get from place to place.
If you decide a mobility assistance dog is right for you, then the tasks it learns to perform will be bespoke to you – it will cater to your needs specifically. But some of the example tasks these pet-helpers can provide include:
- Helping its owner get into and out of a wheelchair
- Pulling a wheelchair up a ramp
- Opening and closing doors
- Pushing buttons (to summon elevators, for example)
- Turning lights on and off
- Picking things up for its owner
- Providing stability and support for people with balance or coordination issues
- Redirecting its owner away from environmental dangers
- Carrying items for its owner in a canine backpack
These versatile companions are well worth considering. Particularly as we get older, a mobility assistance dog can be more than just a mobility aid, but also a companion. And, of course, if its owner requires emergency medical help, a mobile assistance dog can – quite literally – be a life saver. It can alert people to the situation, roll its owner onto their side, and guard its owner until help arrives.
If you think a mobility assistance dog might be right for you or someone you love, it’s well worth visiting http://www.assistancedogs.org.uk/ to learn more. Of course, for all your other mobility needs, you can contact Shire Mobility on 01604 580 600 (Northampton) or 01869 253 976 (Bicester).