SYLVANIA (WTVG) – It’s an organization that’s been changing lives for decades. Assistance Dogs for Achieving Independence is a program of The Ability Center of Greater Toledo. It pairs dogs with people around the region, and a new class is about to graduate.
The dogs go through a couple years of training. They are then paired with their new owner, and they go through a couple more weeks of training together. Everyone involved says this is truly life-changing work, “Thank you is not enough. The love, time and effort they put into these dogs is incredible.”
It’s emotional for Kendra Turner to talk about the impact her daughter’s dog Dill has already had on the family, “This has changed her life already and they’ve been together less than two weeks. He’s going to give her an amazing future. You are watching a dog change your daughter’s life. I don’t think there are the right words to express my gratitude. This is so much better than we dreamed. “
Thanks to her new partnership with Dill, Abby’s future will now include college. Abby has a connective tissue disorder which makes it difficult for her to do things like stretch or pick things up, “She wants to go out into the world. She is a junior in high school. She wants to go to college, live on campus and have the traditional experience. All the tasks Dill can do for her will allow that to happen.”
Like Dill, all the dog’s at today’s training session are service dogs.
Jenny Barlos is the Client Services Director,”The dogs are doing multiple physical tasks that mitigate the person’s disability.”
Those tasks include opening doors, picking up dropped items and carrying a small bag with medication or water. Their training isn’t limited to a classroom. The dogs also go to a number of businesses around the community like Bass Pro to work with their new partners.
Barlos says when they’re out in the community, the dogs change things for their owners on a social and personal level too, “They are no longer invisible. People come up and talk to them they offer help with doors and they get out of the way. That doesn’t always happen when they don’t have a dog.”
Barlos adds that seeing these dogs succeed and live happy lives is a big reward for all those involved with their stories,”The people who have worked with these dogs from the beginning get some closure knowing the dogs they’ve loved and worked with for two years are going off to do great things. They are going to live with a new family that will love them just like all of us do. We also do follow-up visits and check in on the phone, so we will always know how they are doing.”
The training is about so much more than the physical work, and for that Kendra is grateful,”She has somebody with her at all times, and he loves her the way we do.” A lot of doors are now opening for Abby thanks to her new friend Dill.
The graduation is Thursday night at The Ability Center of Greater Toledo. In addition to the three service dogs we spent time with today, Madison, Dill and Henry, there are also two therapy dogs that will be graduating and going to their new homes Thursday.