Finding the right dog for a client is a process that requires the efforts of many. Every other week the client services coordinators and program trainers sit down to discuss the clients on our waiting list and the dogs in final training. During the matching process many factors are taken into consideration—the energy, personality, and skills of the dog need to be right for the client, and the lifestyle, experience, and personality of the client need to be right for the dog.
Using these factors, the client is partnered with their best match. At that time the client visits our facility to meet their assistance dog for the first time and the two begin the process of training as a team, both in our facility and in the community.
Together they undergo an average of two months of training, with the dog moving into the client’s home about halfway through the process. At this point, client services coordinators continue refining the team’s skills with in-home training sessions. Along with in-home training, they continue to train public access skills in the client’s own community
When the team completes training, they undergo a certification process that includes the Assistance Dog International’s public access test and a home skills assessment. The purpose of the public access test is to ensure the dog is well-behaved and unobtrusive to the public and that the client has control over the dog at all times. The home skills assessment confirms that the dog is able to carry out all the assistance dog skills specific to the client’s disability. Successful completion of this certification will signal the beginning of a new, more independent life for both client and dog.