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International Assistance Dog Week (IADW)


Assistance dogs are some of the most devoted, hardworking animals that give hope and assistance to those who need them the most. To celebrate them, International Assistance Dog Week (IADW) was created to recognize all the assistance dogs helping individuals with their everyday lives. This week of acknowledgement happens every year on the first Sunday of August, so it will be taking place this year from August 6th-August 12th. Assistance dogs are not just assistance dogs, but helpers, aides, best friends and close family members.

During IADW, assistancedogweek.org hopes to help the public understand the importance of specially trained animals who aid so many in communities nationwide. They also want to recognize the puppy raisers and trainers of assistance dogs, and the deeds performed by assistance dogs, no matter how small. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), any person with a disability is allowed to have an assistance dog to help them live their lives normally. The ADA protects disabled individuals and lets them bring their assistance dogs to public places like restaurants and hotels, and also allows people to fly with their assistance dogs.

It’s best for an assistance dog to be wearing a service vest or tag, because otherwise the public won’t know that they are working, and people eager to pet the dog will distract the dog from its work. Not to mention that their handlers will find themselves having to explain repeatedly that their dog is an assistance dog. Some businesses like airlines prefer to see an identification card or vest that indicates that the dog is an assistance dog.

IADW has Marcie Davis, a paraplegic for 35 years, to thank for its beginnings. Davis is CEO of Davis Innovations, a consulting firm based in Santa Fe, NM and also an author of a book called Working Like Dogs: The Service Dog Guidebook. This book includes stories and checklists to help provide whoever reads the book with an A to Z guide about service dogs. On top of being a respected CEO and author, she is also the host of an internet radio program called Working Like Dogs. It can be found at petliferadio.com. And if she hasn’t done enough to inform people about the importance of assistance dogs, she has also found the time to be a member of a service dog team, Working Like Dogs.

There are other websites to visit if you are interested in learning more about assistance dogs. Assistance Dogs International is a group of non for profit organizations that train and place assistance dogs, you can visit them at assistancedogsinternational.org. There is also the International Association of Assistance Dog Partners at www.iaadp.org. Lastly, Working Like Dogs at workinglikedogs.com, is a site to visit for people who want to learn more about assistance dogs.