In this blog post we’ll get to know the incredible story behind the heartwarming Canine Assistants organisation which is featured in the film ‘Healing Paws’ from the 2023 Top Dog Film Fest line up- it’s a special one!
Founded in 1991 by Jennifer Arnold, Canine Assistants is a non-profit organisation dedicated to teaching and providing service dogs for individuals with physical disabilities and special needs. Jennifer’s journey began when she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis as a teenager and spent two years in a wheelchair, feeling isolated and in need of assistance.
Inspired by a program in California, Jennifer’s father envisioned starting a similar initiative in Georgia. Tragically, just three weeks after the first planning meeting, he lost his life in a drunk driving accident. It took Jennifer and her mother a decade of unwavering determination to bring their dream to fruition.
Today, Canine Assistants breeds, raises, and educates their service dogs at their facility in Milton, Georgia. These extraordinary canines include Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers, Goldendoodles, and mixes of these breeds. They are trained to assist their recipients in various ways, such as turning lights on and off, opening doors, retrieving objects, and even summoning help.
Beyond their physical tasks, the most remarkable gift these dogs offer is emotional support. They banish feelings of fear, isolation, and loneliness, providing their companions with newfound freedom and confidence. One recipient expressed the magic of this connection when she exclaimed, “My dog makes my wheelchair disappear.”
Canine Assistants also goes beyond traditional service dogs. They train seizure response dogs, who stay by their recipient’s side during seizures and can even predict and react in advance to oncoming episodes. Diabetic alert dogs are placed with Type 1 Diabetic patients, detecting changes in blood sugar levels and providing crucial assistance. Moreover, companion dogs work primarily at home, aiding with household tasks and contributing significantly to emotional well-being.
At Canine Assistants, the philosophy is rooted in the Bond-Based Approach developed by Jennifer Arnold in 2012. This approach emphasises creating mutually beneficial relationships between dogs and people, built on trust, respect, and confidence. The organisation believes that dogs who enrich the lives of people in need deserve to lead happy lives themselves.
The impact of Canine Assistants reaches far beyond the physical assistance they provide. These remarkable dogs give the gift of unconditional love and acceptance, bringing joy and hope to countless lives. Jennifer’s vision to help others with physical disabilities and special needs has grown into a beacon of compassion and dedication. Through this incredible organisation, lives are transformed, and barriers are broken, proving that the power of a loving bond knows no bounds.
In the spirit of Jennifer Arnold’s vision, Canine Assistants continues to thrive, driven by the passion to help as many people as possible. Together, we can support this noble cause and spread the message of hope, healing, and the extraordinary bond between humans and their faithful canine companions.
The film ‘Healing Paws’ is now screening at the Top Dog Film Festival across Australia and we can’t stress enough how beautifully touching this film is, it’s an absolute must- see. Get your last min tix HERE!
All image credit to Healing Paws
DID YOU KNOW? You can now stream the 2024 Top Dog Film Festival available on Radical Reels TV HERE