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Everyone needs a hero!




Service Dog Oak and Sgt Teegardin
Service Dog Oak and Sgt Teegardin

Have you ever seen a service animal in action? The pure joy they bring to their owners' faces can only be described as magical. Here at Run Free K9, we understand the significance of service dogs, especially for individuals with quadriplegia (tetraplegia). Even heroes need heroes and I have come to learn that service dogs are excellent companions for veterans. Service dogs allow persons with spinal cord injuries (SCI) to regain some of their independence. Everyone needs a hero and a service dog can be a real game-changer.


One particular service dog we're excited to introduce you to is Oak, the super-star service dog of Sgt Teegardin from Handicap Help. Sgt Teegardin did everything right from the start, dedicating time and effort to ensure Oak received the best training possible. And the results speak for themselves - Oak has become a real pack member to their family and business, to my company, and even to my husky girls!


Service Dog Oak and Miss Athena
Service Dog Oak and Miss Athena


At Handicap Help, they're passionate about providing valuable resources and support to people living with disabilities, their caregivers, and loved ones. They aim to create a supportive, positive space where people can get information, advice, resources, and community support. Whether you're someone who has recently been injured or has been living with a disability for a while, their blog aims to provide you with the comfort and guidance you need. So why join us and others like us on the journey to living a fantastic life despite limitations?


I get to work with some of the most amazing animals on the planet. These dogs are more than just pets – they're superheroes!


One of the most rewarding parts of my job is training the incredible things service dogs can do for their owners. Watching a dog open a door, dial a phone, or even help their owner turn in bed is truly magical. These dogs are not just obedient but intuitive, empathetic, and fiercely loyal.

Service Dog Oak and his new beautiful blue vest
Service Dog Oak and his new beautiful blue vest

Let me tell you about some fantastic tasks that service dogs can perform. One of my personal favorites is answering the door. Just imagine this: you're sitting on the couch, and the pizza guy knocks on the door. Instead of getting up and answering it yourself, you give a command to your trusty service dog, and they tug on the rope tied to the door handle. Voila! Your pizza is served.


Service dogs can also be trained to alert their owners in case of an emergency. For instance, if you're in the kitchen cooking dinner, and your service dog starts to alert you by pressing their Emergency and Dad buttons, you will know that an AD episode is occurring, and that your life is in danger.  A great post on A.D. from Sgt. Teegardin can be found here: Dealing with "AD" (Autonomic Dysreflexia) (handicaphelp.net)


Moreover, service dogs can even be trained to call 911 in an emergency. They can hit a button pad on a landline phone or even an iPad to dial the number and get help for their owner. Talk about a lifesaver!


And that's not all. Service dogs can help with mobility tasks, such as assisting with position changes, carrying grocery bags, and hitting elevator buttons. They can even push paralyzed limbs back in place with a gentle nudge of their snout.


Service Dog Oak and his family
Service Dog Oak and his family


Now, I know what you're thinking. How do you train a dog to do all of these incredible things? Well, it takes time, patience, and positive reinforcement. We start by selecting dogs with the right temperament and intelligence, then work with them for months or even years to teach them the specific tasks they'll need to perform. It's a long and challenging process, but seeing the incredible impact these dogs can have on their owners' lives is worth seeing.

So there you have it, folks – a little glimpse into the fantastic world of service dog training. If you're ever feeling down, remember that there are dogs out there who can change lives with their skills and devotion. And who knows – maybe you'll be lucky to meet one of these four-legged heroes in person.

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