More than just "Man's Best Friend"

The dogs at Assistance Dogs for Acheiving Independence come from a variety of sources, including animal shelters, humane societies, pounds, pet owners and breeders. All of the dogs in our program are Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers or mixes thereof. They are between the ages of eight weeks and two years of age. We are looking for happy, confident dogs that are eager to learn and friendly to people and all other animals.

Shelter Dogs - New dogs, acquired from the shelters, pounds and humane societies, are initially screened for temperament behaviors and trainability at the local shelter or humane society. Our staff tests the dogs for friendliness, noise sensitivity, bonding ability, retrieving instincts and general trainability. These dogs must be confident and have the desire to please to become a candidate for our training program. If a dog passes this testing, it is taken out of the shelter and returned to our facility for further evaluations and screening.

Pet Home Donations - Pet home owners contact us when they are looking for a new home for their pet and feel that their dog possesses the qualities we are looking for in an assistance dog. Our staff evaluates and tests the dog at our facility to see how it does in an unfamiliar environment. This allows the staff to determine the dog’s adaptability to new situations and environments. If the dog passes this evaluation, the dog remains at the facility for two more weeks of evaluation. If the dog displays behaviors unacceptable during those two weeks, the owners are required to return and pick up their dog.

Breeder Donations – On occasion breeders will contact us and inquire about donating a puppy. Ideally these breeders learned about our program and want to donate puppies from their litter to give back to their community. Breeders call to inquire about our temperament requirements and qualities that we are looking for so they can select the “right” puppies for a career as an assistance dog. These breeders understand the importance of the animal-human bond and know the wonderful life their dogs will have as life-long companions fulfilling such an important service. We only accept pure-bred Labrador and Golden Retriever puppies. The breeding parents must also have OFA hip clearances. Each dog goes through a complete physical during this time by our program veterinarians at West Toledo Animal Hospital or Perrysburg Animal Care. Each dog is x-rayed for hip and elbow dysplasia, spayed or neutered, and receives all necessary vaccinations. If the dog passes the health screening, he enters the training evaluation program. During the training evaluation, the dog is started on basic obedience and is exposed to many different situations. Our training staff will test him at our local parks and busy streets to observe any fear related behaviors. He will be introduced to other dogs and cats to evaluate his ability to get along with other animals. General training will evaluate his desire to please and his ability to learn quickly. After the dog passes this thorough screening, he will be placed in our volunteer Foster Family Program for further training and socialization.

If the dog is not able to train as an assistance dog, he is released from our program and placed in a pet home through our Pet Home Adoption Program. On occasion if our staff observes the qualities desired as a narcotic or corrections dog, we will contact the Department of Corrections. Many of our released dogs have gone onto careers in law enforcement.

Happy Endings: Tyler and Tucker

Tyler’s first service dog, Duke, who served Tyler faithfully for 7 years, passed away in December. Tyler was diagnosed with a brain tumor at age 8 and lost his equilibrium. Tyler received Tucker, a Golden Retriever as his new service dog. “ I think Tucker is going to help me be more social and independent,” says Tyler, who works part time and enjoys going to  Toledo Mudhens and Detroit Tiger games. “He’ll help me balance as I walk and be my good friend and companion. Tucker was donated by Roy Hayes and fostered by the Eagle family.