You may be thinking about whether or not an assistance dog could be of benefit to you if you have a mental health condition due to your service. You might be wanting to explore the possibilities further or make an application. Yes, having an assistance dog can be life changing. But there are a number of considerations to be taken into account before making an application and you will also have to make some big decisions and lifestyle choices.
The truth of the matter is that you have to be ready. A dog is no substitute for treatment or therapy, and our approach is a recovery-oriented model that compliments treatments from other care providers.
Our dogs can do a lot of things - but they are not a magic pill or the solution to mental health problems.
Not everyone will benefit from having an assistance dog. You’ll need to decide if your lifestyle and living arrangements are suitable for having a medium-sized dog. You’ll have to be ready and able to assume the responsibilities of having a working dog, and providing for the care and health of the dog. You’ll also have to be willing to take the dog with you everywhere, not as a pet but as a partner, and that this will identify you as having a disability.
You will have to work hard over a considerable period of time and be prepared to face your own personal challenges. The bond that is needed with an assistance dog has to absolute. You will not be alone though, we don't expect you to be a dog trainer already, we provide support and training throughout the programme and continuing afterwards. Your commitment is to invest the time and effort required to practise the skills and exercises you learn with us and with your trainer, so that you progress as a partnership until becoming qualified. There are other Veterans on similar journeys, and those that have already qualified as partnerships who will also be very supportive.
VETERANS WITH DOGS has a comprehensive application process. Before we begin, we first exchange basic information to determine eligibility and whether the PALS™ programme would be appropriate for you.
At each step of the application process, experienced VWD staff review an applicant’s need and qualifications to determine whether or not the programme will help the applicant in an appropriate manner.