It's International Assistance Dog Week!

At Variety Pet Foods, we’ve come to recognize the absolutely invaluable presence of dogs in our live. Not only do they provide constant companionship, but humans can actually enjoy a wide variety of health benefits just from having a pup or two around–like lowered blood pressure, lowered stress, and better memory! But there’s a certain doggy demographic that goes above-and-beyond when it comes to serving their two-legged peers.

Assistance dogs are those specifically trained (often from their earliest months of life) to aid humans who are disabled in some fashion. This can range from physical or mental disabilities, including deafness, blindness, autism, seizures, and much more. Assistance dogs can be trained to safely guide people around town, retrieve items from around the house, or even alert people when their human is about to experience an epileptic seizure!

Because of their enormous contribution to our lives, International Assistance Dog Week was created to honor their devotion while spreading awareness about exactly how much assistance dogs impact humanity for the better.

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IADW hosts events around the country and the world, getting shelters, dog-owners, and others involved in putting the spotlight on assistance dogs for a whole week. How can you get in on the fun? Easy!

First, if you or anyone you know actually has an assistance dog in your life, take a little time and tell your story to friends and family–if they don’t already know. Many people are curious how assistance dogs work, how they’re trained, how they’re paired with their human, and you can do a lot to dispel various myths and confusion surrounding the whole process.

If you know an assistance dog trainer, find a way to thank them during the week! They spend a large portion of their time getting dogs to the point where lives can depend on their actions and obedience. Ask them how you can help spread the word about their effort, maybe help them schedule demonstrations at schools or shelters, or donate to their training organization.

And while it may be a difficult temptation to resist, if you see an assistance dog while out and about, DON’T GO UP AND PET IT! Yes, this is counter-intuitive because, after all, what pup doesn’t love pettings? However, when assistance dogs are on the job, being petted can be a distraction that might hamper their ability to work well. If anything, ask their human if petting their dog is allowed, or look for patches on their work vest that may ask people to keep their hands off.

What interactions have you had with assistance dogs? Are you doing anything special to celebrate this wonderful week?

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