Jessica Reichmuth is a certified trainer at Dogs for the Deaf. She spends months working with shelter rescue dogs to become assistance animals for a variety of needs; from hearing and autism assistance, to program assistance.
Fancy fits the bill perfectly, the 2 year old black lab will soon be the newest addition at the Children’s Advocacy Center of Jackson County. It will be her presence that helps keep kids present.
“When you’re talking about very hard things that have happened to you, sometimes its hard to not go back to the place to that event in your head,” therapist Catherine Zern says, “so the dogs help keep clients in the present while they’re talking about the wounds in the past.”
Fancy is the first program assistance dog to be placed by Dogs for the Deaf, as the organization looks to add additional training programs.
The training is unique. While every dog receives obedience training, they are also specifically task trained for the job they’ll do.
“The program assistance dogs they go say hi, and they’ll go rest their head on their lap and just settle at the person’s feet,” Jessica Reichmuth says.
The training can take anywhere from 4 to 6 months, and with the help of some positive reinforcement they have a high success rate. Once they’ve passed their certification tests, they are placed with their clients; a day that every one at Dogs for the Deaf, lives for.
“When you see a dog being placed with someone who needs that help and you’re making their life better it’s very rewarding,” CEO Blake Matray says.
Once the dogs are ready to be placed the non-profit collects a $500 good faith deposit. That deposit is refunded after a year, so the end cost for anyone receiving a dog is just a $50 application fee.
The hope is that Fancy will be ready to go to work helping children at the CAC by June. If you’d like to learn more about Dogs for the Deaf or support their efforts, click HERE.