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Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Canine Caregivers - Janet Neumann Trains Service Dogs

Sunday afternoon my lab mix, Teddy Bear, and I were walking in a park when we met a very interesting caregiver. This caregiver had 4 legs, weighed about 40 pounds, had a mixed heritage, and could provide valuable assistance to people with disabilities. The canine caregiver was accompanied by his owner, Janet Neumann, a Certified Service Dog trainer and owner of "PAWSabilities." Janet explained to me the types of assistance a service dog can supply for a disabled senior, or person of any age, and the unique training.

The dogs can wear backpacks, and carry the owner's purses, books, water bottles, and other objects. For people with various injuries or disabilities it's very helpful to have someone else carry objects that weigh 5 or 10 pounds. I have a backpack for my lab mix, who is energetic and powerful, and he loves to be useful, carrying water bottles and books.

Some dogs sound an alarm if the owner is about to have an epileptic siezure. They have a way of being able to sense what is going to happen.

One of the types of training she specializes in is training "hearing dogs" for people who are hearing impaired.

One of the most interesting aspects of Janet's training is that if someone does not have a dog already, she goes with them to find a "rescue dog" at a shelter. Finding a dog that the person senses a special bond with is very important. Janet is also able to tell if the dog has the potential to be a service dog.

Having a companion dog is well documented as providing stress-reduction and greater happiness for many people. The service dogs assist people who have a disability and provide friendship and affection.

Because people with disabilities might have physical limitations, the service dog is trained to respond to the voice for guidance or commands. Janet trains the owner how to train the dog, instead of just training the dog.

Janet received her Certification at the Assistance Dog Training Institute in Santa Rosa, California. She can be reached at (805) 773-3269 and (805) 610-1157.

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