If you love dogs you need to read this. Even if you’re not a dog lover but believe in the value of service canines, you need to read this.
I had the great fortune to meet Jennifer Arnold, the author of THROUGH A DOG’S EYES (Spiegel & Grau, 2010). I personally was aware of service dogs for people who can’t see, and I had seen dogs in airports or shopping malls walking alongside sighted people but I never realized the extent of what these dogs do. I have a new perspective and a new love and admiration for canines.
Jennifer Arnold’s story starts with her diagnosis of multiple sclerosis as a teenager, and her father’s idea to get a canine assistant for her. But things didn’t go according to plan, and what you learn from the author is that there is not much that is more important in life than to keep dreams alive and pursue your passion no matter what.
Canine Assistants in Atlanta, GA is the fruition of her father’s dream. Through many years of determination and hard work, Jennifer Arnold was able to create the very thing her father wanted for her. And Ms. Arnold is helping children and adults live better lives with the dogs she and her staff train to be canine assistants.
So what is a canine assistant? It’s a dog that has been trained to recognize various signals that people may not be able to see such as an on-coming seizure. The author tells many stories of how dogs saw the signs and guided their “people” to be safe during a seizure (this is basically done by having the person sit or lie down so that they do not get injured from a fall). These dogs can turn on a light switch, open doors, open drawers to retrieve medications, and get phones into a person’s reach.
The book covers a wide variety of topics that are intended to show us how dogs think, why they react the way they do, how they learn, how they hear, what they see, and so much more. The thing to know is that some people need to re-think how they train their dogs. There should never be force and choke chains involved in training. Dogs respond the way people would – to care, and love, and patience, and respect.
I could go on and on about how wonderful a person Jennifer Arnold is and how incredible her book is, but I encourage you to read the book for yourself. You won’t regret it. Her second book is due out this summer.
You can read stories and view video clips on her non-profit organization’s web site here.
You can also view the PBS documentary here. Neil Patrick Harris narrates the program 🙂