Canine Assistants
FAQs

General Information

What is Canine Assistants?

Canine Assistants is a non-profit organization that trains and provides service dogs to enhance and improve the lives of children and adults who have physical disabilities, seizure conditions or other special needs.

When was Canine Assistants founded?

1991

Who founded Canine Assistants?

Jennifer Arnold

How many dogs are placed each year?

We are currently placing between 75 to 100 dogs annually.

How many dogs are on the farm?

Around 120 at any given time.

How many dogs have been placed since 1991?

Over 1,500.

About Our Dogs

What is a service dog?

A service dog is one type of assistance dog that primarily provides physical or mobility assistance. Learn more about our dogs.

What types of assistance dogs exist?

Guide, hearing, service, seizure response, and emotional support are all types of assistance dogs.

What types of assistance dogs does Canine Assistants train?

We primarily provide assistance dogs for people who have mobility difficulties, seizure response dogs for those who have epilepsy and diabetic response dogs. Learn more about our dogs.

What is a seizure response dog?

A seizure response dog is another type of assistance dog that assists by responding in a specific way AFTER a person has a seizure to provide help. For instance, the dog may lay by the person during the seizure, retrieve a cordless phone for the person, alert another person (if available) or press a medic alert button. Learn more about our dogs.

Can dogs predict or react in advance of seizures?

Yes, but it is a natural ability of the dog that scientists still do not understand and one that cannot be trained or selected. Anecdotal research shows that the dogs are likely responding to an olfactory cue or a certain type of smell. Canine Assistants cannot train our dogs to alert to oncoming seizures. Yet, once a recipient and their dog develop a strong bond, many Canine Assistants seizure response dogs (about 87%) do go on to PREDICT or react in ADVANCE of a seizure, usually with an unusual behavior, such as whining, pawing, pacing, jumping, barking, etc. This may happen a few to several minutes before a seizure, which can be quite helpful for individuals who do not experience an aura or feeling that the seizure is coming on.

What breeds of dogs are trained at Canine Assistants?

Goldens and Labs primarily, although Canine Assistants does have Golden and Lab mixes, as well as other Golden mixes. Learn more about our dogs.

Where do you get your dogs?

Most come from our breeding program, although Canine Assistants also uses dogs adopted from shelters and rescue programs.

At what age do the dogs start training?

Puppies begin their training (through our Super Dog Program) at two days of age.

How long does it take to train a service dog?

A year and a half.

What cues do they learn?

The dogs learn a wide variety of cues, including opening and closing doors, picking up dropped items, and turning on and off lights.

Why do you let people pat your dogs in public?

At Canine Assistants, we allow each recipient to make decisions regarding any potential interactions between his/her dog and people in public. If our recipients feel that allowing someone, who politely asks to pat his/her dog, will not cause any negative consequences for any of the parties involved, including the dog, then we feel such interaction is perfectly acceptable. Some programs do not allow their dogs to be touched by people in public fearing that the dogs will become distracted in the present time which may cause them difficulties in the future. We believe that each of our recipients is capable of determining for him or herself whether or not distraction is a concern.

Part of the benefit of having an assistance dog is the increased social interaction of the recipient.

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Applying for a Service Dog

What is the application process?

Applications can be downloaded via our website on the Applying for a Canine Assistants dog page. Once received, our Recipient Coordinator (Theresa) will contact the applicant within 3 months to conduct an interview and discuss the application. If it is determined that a service dog or seizure response dog will be of benefit to the applicant, they are then placed on the waiting list.

Apply for a service dog.

How many people are currently on the waiting list?

About 1,600.

How long is the waiting list?

Unfortunately, it can be 1 to 5 years; sometimes it can even take longer.

How are applicants placed on the waiting list?

Our waiting is needs-based; those with the greatest need go to the top of the list. Each applicant is evaluated based on how much a dog could do to help physically, emotionally and socially. We encourage those who need us to apply in spite of our long waiting list.

Are there age restrictions?

Canine Assistants will place dogs with children usually starting around 7 to 8 years of age. Yet, families with younger children are encouraged to apply as soon as possible, as their child will usually be eligible for a dog after time spent on the waiting list.

Who is eligible to apply?

Anyone who has a physical disability, seizure condition or other special need (i.e. diabetes).

Can dogs be placed with applicants that have other pets at home?

Yes.

How long is a dog in service?

Average age of retirement is about 10, give or take a year or two.

What happens after a dog retires?

Canine Assistants discusses the situation with the recipient and/or family to determine what is best for them. Most dogs remain with the recipient or family as they have become an important part of the family after many years. If the recipient or family is interested in applying for another dog, they are placed on the waiting list and placed with a dog as soon as possible.

Is the Canine Assistants vet clinic open to the public?

No. It is specifically for Canine Assistants animals. Any recipient who is able to easily travel to our vet clinic can receive veterinary care free of charge. For those who cannot visit our vet clinic, arrangements are made to cover any veterinary expenses if needed with the recipient's local veterinarian.

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Information About Our Facilities

How large is the Canine Assistants farm?

18 acres

What other animals are on the farm?

Two miniature donkeys (Lucy and Brooks), two goats (Oreo and Nubbin), eight horses, one cat on the farm (Stud), two cats in the puppy building (Fishflake - brown tabby; Muchacho - black), 1 rabbit.

What is the purpose of the animals on the farm?

Many of the animals on the farm have been rescued (i.e. most, if not all, of the horses) and serve as a wonderful opportunity to provide Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT) opportunities for special needs groups that come to visit.

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Canine Assistants Education Programs

What is the Canine Assistants education program?

The Canine Assistants education program is our Noah Elliott Stowers Center for Animal Assisted Education. Included in this program are our education presentations, tours, info tables, AAT sessions and K-9 Kids.

How does one schedule a presentation, info table or tour?

All are scheduled by appointment via our Educational and Related Programs page. Presentations and info tables can accommodate small or large groups while tours are limited to 20. Presentations and info tables can be scheduled most anytime during the week (pending availability of a staff member or volunteer) while tours are preferred Monday – Thursday between 10 am and 4 pm; however, Fridays and Saturdays can often be accommodated.

How does one get involved with Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT)?

AAT refers to activities in which we simply introduce children and adults to the unconditional love that our service dogs provide. It also provides a novel experience to practice gross motor skills, enhance traditional therapy, and simply relax with a dog. There are numerous opportunities with AAT around metro Atlanta, in hospitals, assisted living facilities, special needs classrooms, community groups, etc. A brief additional orientation is necessary for AAT activities following certification and some programs (i.e. hospitals) may require a separate orientation as well.

What is K-9 Kids?

The K-9 Kids Reading Program enables students who are reading below grade level to practice their reading skills in the company of Canine Assistants dogs, who can be quite avid listeners. K-9 Kids volunteers and dogs visit 12 schools throughout the metro Atlanta area each week throughout the school year for about an hour. Students. self esteem and confidence have skyrocketed with the success of K-9 Kids and our dogs have been honored to serve as academic ambassadors.

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Volunteer Opportunities

How can I become a volunteer?

We have both a local volunteer and a national volunteer program. To learn more about volunteer training and opportunities, simply visit our website. Children under the age of 18 are permitted to accompany their parents to training classes and volunteer activities providing the parent is the primary volunteer.

Local Volunteering -|- National Volunteering

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Financial Questions

If a person cannot afford a dog can they still receive one from Canine Assistants?

Yes! We operate on a needs basis and many of the people who need a service dog most cannot afford one. Therefore, Canine Assistants covers the training, food and medical costs for the life of every dog placed.

Please apply for a service dog here.

To learn more about how you can help an individual in need receive a Canine Assistants service dog, please visit here.

How much do your dogs cost?

Nothing! Canine Assistants does not charge for any of our services. The lifelong care for each of our dogs is well over $20,000 so Canine Assistants creates sponsorships to cover the medical, food and training costs for the life of every dog placed. We use the support of individuals, foundations and corporations to fund our sponsorships and programs. To learn more about how you can help an individual in need receive a Canine Assistants service dog please visit Donating To Canine Assistants.

If I make a donation how will my money be used?

Canine Assistants has a very low overhead, about 5%, which means that when you donate to our organization 95% of your money goes directly to help us train, feed and care for our dogs. We will also use your support to cover the travel, lodging and food costs for an individual to come to our facilities in Milton, GA to train with and receive their service dog. It is very important to Canine Assistants that all funding is directed to where it is needed most and that the wishes of our donors are met with honesty, confidence and transparency. To learn more about how Canine Assistants utilizes your support please visit Donation FAQs.

Do you receive government funding?

No, we only accept private donations. While we never want to turn donations away that would help an individual in need receive a dog more quickly, Canine Assistants does not feel it is right to take tax dollars from individuals who do not know they are giving to our organization. Therefore, Canine Assistants solely relies on the generosity of individuals, foundations and corporations to fulfill our mission. If you would like to support our organization please visit Donating To Canine Assistants.

What is a service dog sponsorship?

Service dog and recipient camp sponsorships are setup to insure no monetary costs are passed on to our recipients. Since Canine Assistants does not charge anything for the services we provide we must raise all funds necessary to support the placement of our service dogs. Service dog sponsorships are instrumental in covering the costs associated with training, boarding, lifetime medical care, and placement of a service dog with an individual who has a physical disability or other special need. If you are interested in learning more about service dog sponsorships and how you can help please visit Donation FAQs.

What is a recipient camp sponsorship?

Training camp sponsorships assist in covering food, lodging and transportation expenses during each two-week camp. When an applicant reaches the top of the waiting list, we assign them to one of our two-week recipient camps where the individual will meet and be trained to work with his or her new best friend. We currently conduct six recipient camps per year, with an average of twelve to fourteen recipients per camp. During these two weeks, our recipients attend lectures on dog management, participate in training sessions at our facility, and go on numerous outings to venues of public accommodation such as restaurants, malls, and schools to practice handling skills in public. If you are interested in learning more about recipient camp sponsorships and how you can help please visit Donation FAQs.

Do you accept dog donations?

No. If you are interested in donating your dog to an assistance dog organization, please contact to the Delta Society to navigate their comprehensive directory of service dog organizations throughout the country. If you need to find a home for your dog in the Atlanta area, you can visit the SPOT Atlanta Area Animal Rescue List. This website provides a listing of various rescue groups for pure breeds and mixed breeds alike. If outside of the Atlanta area, please search for rescue groups in your area using a search engine like Yahoo or Google.

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Federal Employees

Is Canine Assistants a member of the Combined Federal Campaign?

Yes. Canine Assistants is extremely excited about our continued participation in the Combined Federal Campaign through the Animal Charities of America Federation. The CFC, for short, allows all federal employees and military personnel to designate funds to Canine Assistants using our CFC reference number: 10017.

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