Service dogs are the nurses of the animal world. They’re highly trained specialists working to provide around-the-clock assistance to those with disabilities and life-threatening conditions.
It’s no wonder, then, that the estimated cost to train and partner a dog-person team can run into the tens of thousands of dollars. But the nonprofit Circle Tail exists to make service dogs more accessible. “We raise, train, and partner service and hearing dogs for people with disabilities at no charge,” says founder and Executive Director Marlys Staley.
Service dogs accompany people out in public, of course, assisting with everything from navigation to reducing anxiety. But that’s just the work we can see. Assistance animals like hearing dogs provide much-needed oversight and companionship, as well as a connection to the outside world from the privacy of one’s home.
Hearing dogs, for instance, train to alert people to sounds in their environment, such as a knock on the door or a ringing phone. The dog uses her nose to nudge the person, and then takes them to the source of the sound. “It can be isolating for a person with a disability,” says Staley. “This breaks the isolation to have a companion that is kind of an extension of them—their arms, their legs, their ears.”
Circle Tail provides low-cost training for home pets as well, says Staley. “A lot of our pet training is for people who have gotten their dogs from rescues and shelters, and they have some behavior issues associated with that,” she says. “We’re trying to help people in our community have good relationships with their dogs.” Happy dogs, happy people.
Circle Tail, 8834 Carey Lane, Pleasant Plain, (513) 877-3325