The bond between humans and dogs remains inexplicably deep. This is especially true for those individuals who have physical, mental, or emotional disabilities.
Duo Dogs, in St. Louis, understands this precept (perhaps more so than the recipients themselves) and happily places their Golden Retrievers and Labrador Retrievers with those in need.
The company—which was established almost 40 years ago—breeds, raises, and trains the dogs at the cost of $40,000, and has three programs that benefit both adults and children:
• Assistance Dogs help those with hearing or mobility impairments and have the ability to distinguish up to 200 specific requests such as pushing a button to let someone in or out, picking up something as small as an earring backing or as large as a prosthetic leg, helping to make a bed, helping someone get dressed, doing laundry and opening a refrigerator;
• Facility Dogs aid those adults and children who are receiving treatment and medical care. In addition, they work at child advocacy centers, prosecuting attorney’s offices, public defender’s offices, and courthouses to help ease the stress of witnesses who have to testify or victims of crime and abuse during a trial. These dogs are trained to help a victim get through a traumatic time in their life and is especially helpful for children having to testify against their abuser.
“We found that when we bring a dog in [to the courtroom], the dog breaks a barrier so that the child is able to tell the story of their abuse,” says Peggy Musen, executive director of Duo Dogs. “If a child has to go to court, the dog can sit quietly for three or four hours and the child can hold the leash. When the child goes back for follow-up therapy, the dog is still there.”
• TOUCH Therapy Dogs involves training and certifying volunteers who bring in their own dogs to participate in the program in which the volunteers visit senior living and health care facilities to provide companionship;
• PTSD Dogs is a new program that will be starting this year, according to Peggy. It will take an entire year to train the dog to help an individual suffering from PTSD, and the goal, she says, is to place a dog that has been trained in this program by June 2021.
The organization, which counts heavily on its 700 volunteers, places its dogs worldwide, and currently has dogs in 38 states, with one in Canada, and another in London.
For more information, visit DuoDogs.org/.