- Written by Jessica Riel
- Published: 19 December 2014
What if your new best friend was once homeless, received an excellent education, and could save your life? Oh, and he has four legs, too.
If your new best friend comes from Diggity Dogs Service Dogs, Inc., it’s no wonder he’s so great!
“Diggity Dogs Service Dogs makes a difference every day by training rescue dogs as psychiatric and medical alert service dogs,” says Sarah Meikle, Executive Director of Diggity Dogs. These dogs “help individuals with invisible disabilities live fuller, happier, more independent lives.”
By rescuing and training former shelter dogs rather than breeding service dogs, the non-profit organization saves these animals from potentially being euthanized with 3-4 million other dogs and cats annually in the United States. A partnership with the rescue organization PAWS New England has made it possible for Diggity Dogs to find suitable dogs that are able to pass their rigorous standards and assessment process, which is designed to analyze the dogs’ behavior, temperament, and more. All Diggity Dogs are non-aggressive and dog- and kid-friendly.
It takes time and dedication to train the dogs – usually six to nine months – and local families and individuals volunteer to foster both dogs and puppies until they have “graduated.”
The “Service Dog Placement Program” costs $5,000, and, for those who need financial assistance, Diggity Dogs offers fundraising support on their website and social media pages. You can visit their website to apply: indogswetrust.org.Service dog applicants are included in the final stages of training to ensure that their dogs know how to respond to their symptoms based on the applicants’ desires. A week-long intensive course takes place when the applicant receives the dog; support continues with additional training over the next week year to ensure that the applicants’ specific needs are met.
If you already have a four-legged friend in your life, you may wish to consider the lower cost option. “Train Your Service Dog” courses are for individuals who would like to train their “existing dogs” to become service dogs. Three, five-day intro sessions are upcoming in 2015, taking place on January 5 to 9, February 23 to 2, and March 23 to 27 at the Diggity Dogs Training Center, located at 679 Mohawk Trail in Shelburne Falls. The cost is $1,800 and includes the intensive training course, twelve months of distance/online learning with grading and coaching, and continued support after graduation, as well as supportive materials for you and your newly trained service dog.
Those who participate in either the “Service Dog Placement Program” or the “Train Your Service Dog” courses will receive free, lifetime access to future Diggity Dogs classes and courses.
To learn more, apply for assistance, support a current applicant, foster a dog, or register for an event, visit indogswetrust.org or call 914-222-DOGS.