While many dogs function only as pets and companions, others can be life changers for their humans. Assistance dogs are found worldwide and perform various roles for humans with disabilities and health challenges.
To recognize and raise awareness about the amazing work of these dogs, International Assistance Dog Week is celebrated each year on the first Sunday in August, and in 2024, it runs from August 4th –August 10th. Keep reading to learn about the goals of this special week, along with some suggestions to celebrate it.
All About International Assistance Dog Week
International Assistance Dog Week (IADW) was first celebrated in 2009 and was created by Marcie Davis, the author of a book about service dogs and a service dog owner. She founded a group called Working Like Dogs to honor assistance dogs around the world, which also sponsors IADW.
How to Celebrate International Assistance Dog Week
Local, national, and international assistance dog groups and other pet-related organizations often host yearly events to celebrate IADW. They may use the events to raise awareness and to fundraise for charities that train and place assistance dogs. Attending or volunteering at one of these events is an excellent way to celebrate IADW.
You might also consider promoting IADW on social media using hashtags like #InternationalAssistanceDogWeek. Donate to an assistance dog organization and encourage others to do so.
One function of IADW is to honor the people involved with raising and training service dogs. If you can, research the requirements to become a puppy raiser for a service dog organization.
What Is an Assistance Dog?
An assistance dog is a broad definition that applies to guide dogs, hearing assistance dogs, and other canines. These dogs can be of any breed but must be specifically trained to perform tasks related to their handler’s disability. The tasks could include alerting their owner when it’s time to take medication, providing physical support to people who have trouble walking, or performing household tasks like opening cabinets and turning on lights.
Assistance dogs may be paired with a disabled individual or work at a facility that cares for people with special needs. In America and many other countries, assistance dogs are legally permitted to accompany their owners almost anywhere if they are properly trained and under control.
Therapy pets and emotional support animals are not legally protected assistance animals. Those animals are not trained to perform tasks but simply provide care and support with their presence.
Assistance dogs are on the job all year, so it’s only fitting that at least one week each year is devoted to celebrating their work. International Assistance Dog Week, recognized each year starting the first Sunday in August, provides that opportunity. We offered suggestions for how to celebrate this annual event in this article. However, you can also support assistance dogs year-round by never interfering with one of these animals when you encounter a service dog team in public. Don’t try to pet or distract a service dog and teach children to do the same.
Featured Image Credit: Africa Studio, Shutterstock