Service dogs: priceless four-legged helpers


What can assistance dogs be trained to do?

Photo: Puppy called Willow with a collar in her snout; Copyright: VITA e.V.

With their "will to please", breeds such as Golden Retrievers, Labradors and Australian Sheperds are very well suited for a task as an assistance or service dog. But: Not all puppies become good assistants later on.

Photo: Ulrich Zander with one of his service dogs; Copyright: WZ Hundezentrum

Ulrich Zander has always had a heart for animals. However, his trainer during his dog training license had the right "nose" with him and also saw his talent for training guide dogs for the blind. This is how Zander came to his current profession.

Special training to meet individualized needs

Photo: VITA founder Tatjana Kreidler with one of her dogs; Copyright: Franz Luthe

Tatjana Kreidler became aware of the organizations "Guide Dogs for the Blind" and "Dogs for the Disabled" in Great Britain in the course of her diploma thesis. After her studies in social pedagogy, she trained as a dog trainer.

Photo: a bunch of service dogs around a wheelchair; Copyright: WZ Hundezentrum

From puppy selection to basic training to the finished assistance dog - the training takes years and not all dogs are suitable for it or pass the test. Those that make it, however, are then an enrichment for their people and much more than just aids.

Who pays for or finances the cost of the dog?

Photo: Nina and her assistance dog Hazel; Copyright: Lisa Foltin

For Nina Hoffmann, Hazel is her personal Corona miracle: the dog came to her a year ago when, due to the pandemic, it was also not at all clear for a long time whether and how the reunion of the two could take place.

A priceless partner

Photo: Anne Hofmann; Copyright: private