Local News

Service Dogs Seen As More Than Just Companionship

Posted April 25, 2005

— Service dogs are trained to pull their weight around the house, doing every day tasks for people with disabilities. A charitable organization is helping to pair more of the smart dogs with new owners.

Sampson can go where most dogs cannot go -- into stores and restaurants with his owner, Diane Godwin. Sampson also picks up things Godwin cannot, even if she is the one who is on the ground.

"Because I have balance problems, he's been trained to help me up when I fall. He braces and helps me up," Godwin said.

"Now our challenge comes into what is it that we can teach our dogs to help someone with a disability," said Rick Hairston, president of

Carolina Canines

.

With a $100,000 check from the Goodwill Community Foundation, Carolina Canines can train more dogs for people who need them. The money comes from donations and sales of donated items at stores like one in Cary on Kildaire Farm Road.

An accident in 1989 put David Mickler in a wheelchair and left him with limited use of his hands. With a stick, he can type or dial a phone, but he often drops it. That's where Saint comes in.

"We've bonded without a doubt. He's my best buddy," he said.

Some dogs are even trained to do laundry. It costs about $25,000 to train and place just one service dog.

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