Service dogs can help people who are deaf, blind, diabetic and those who are dealing with mental health conditions. A non-profit organization, Animal Farm Foundation, finds shelter pets from all over the country to help fill those roles. It just tapped a Middle Tennessee rescue dog to start training for an important job.
“We train previous shelter dogs to help people with disabilities,” Animal Farm Foundation Shelter Manager Ashley Pastor said. “Depending on the person’s needs, the dogs can be trained on different tasks, just to make their lives easier on a daily basis.”
Chavez is a 1 1/2-year-old greyhound/ American bulldog mix who was saved by Snooty Giggles, a rescue organization in Thompson’s Station, Tenn. Now he’s been picked by Animal Farm Foundation to go train in New York to become a service dog.
Chavez attended a conference for behavioral health professionals in Nashville last month. Pastor said he did so well comforting hundreds of people that Animal Farm Foundation plans to train him as a psychiatric service dog.
“Ideally you want a dog that’s going to be easygoing with pretty much everything,” Pastor said. “Chavez is a pretty mellow, sweet boy!”
Pastor said service dogs don’t have to be purebred; it’s all about their demeanor.
“We look at their personality, how they are in certain situations, if they show any signs of stress or excitability,” Pastor said. “For a service dog, that might be too much, because they can’t put their focus solely on their person.”
Chavez fit the bill, and now he’ll spend the next nine to 12 months training. If all goes as planned, he will be placed with a handler in need, free of charge.
Animal Farm Foundation does a vast array of advocacy work on behalf of dogs and humans. To learn more about their programs or to nominate a rescue dog for service work, visit their website: https://animalfarmfoundation.org/
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