Dogs to help physically challenged

Dogs to help physically challenged

Dogs to help physically challenged

Like many teenagers, Sanam Karunakar dreamt of a successful career after college. The world held a lot of promises for her until a tragic accident claimed the lives of both her parents and left her a paraplegic.

Sanam was confined to a wheelchair, leaving her struggling with access to several buildings and thoroughfares like many physically challenged persons in the country. Now, though she can get some solace in having a canine companion that can perform several chores for her.

Mumbai-based organisation Canines Can Care, which has been training dogs to assist physically challenged persons, has now started its service in Hyderabad to help several wheelchair-bound individuals perform tasks that are demanding.

Canines Can Care pioneered the concept of assistance through dogs in India. It was founded by Shirin Merchant, the only person in Asia to be a fully accredited member of the Kennel Club of England, holding an accreditation in companion dog training and behavioural training at the advanced level.

“It is very difficult for an able-bodied person to imagine the plight of a physically challenged person. Trivial daily tasks which we take for granted like picking up a fallen object or opening a door could be hard for the wheelchair bound,” Shirin said. “This is where an assist dog can aid the person in being independent.”

A fully trained assist dog can understand up to fifty commands.

A few of the tasks they can carry out are: Picking up dropped objects, fetching the telephone, covering owner with a blanket, barking for help, loading and unloading washing machines, switching lights on and off and opening doors.

Shirin started working in the field of dogs in 1995. She was India’s first canine behaviourist and the first person in India who tackled canine behaviour problems with scientific backing.

Canines Can Care also trained the first civilian dogs for search and rescue work in India. Canines Can Care’s search dog team was the only one representing India in the aftermath of the Gujarat earthquake many years ago.