By Eloise Hands
Last Updated August 5, 2021

All around the world this week assistance dogs and their handlers are getting the recognition they deserve! Internation Assistance Dog week is dedicated to celebrating the achievements and impact that assistance dogs have had on people from all walks of life.

According to the Americans with Disabilities Act, service dogs (otherwise known as assistance dogs) should not be seen as pets, but as working animals. With their handlers showing them the ropes and maintaining their training on a regular basis.

The range of jobs that fall within the “working dog” category include; seeing eye dogs (or guide dogs for the legally blind), hearing dogs (to alert the deaf to danger), seizure alert dogs, or any dog trained to do a specific task in aid of a person with a disability.

DoveLewis Emergency Animal Hospital, located in Portland, Oregon, has its very own dog team filled with service dogs that have retired from their working like to take up therapy dog work instead. Therapy dogs, unlike service dogs, are carefully trained to provide comfort and affection to people of all ages in care. Be it assisted living, memory care, hospice stays, hospital stays, or even schools.

The DoveLewis Canine Therapy Team’s program manager, Kathy Loter has discussed her love for the work this team does with KOIN. Saying she the dogs are all extremely happy to be getting out and about again. After eighteen months of virtual visits, she feels the best way to celebrate their newfound freedom is to get back out there and do what they love, all the while helping the community.

The team is not only trained to provide comfort but they are also experienced with crisis-response, self-care, and psychological first aid according to Loter. They are also re-certified every two years by going through background checks and ability tests to ensure they are still capable of their job.

DoveLewis’ therapy canine unit can also be found at local libraries and Portland Internation Airport. They are, in fact, the only canine therapy team permitted on in the Airport. Their permission also allows them access to secured areas in order to work with staff, as well as guests.

Loter is extremely proud of her canine team and happy to announce that they will be available for “a lot of fur, a lot of dogs, and a lot of tail wagging!”

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