Most of the dogs Diamonds in the Ruff of Virginia (DITR) places will be Emotional Support or Companion Dogs. They are meant to offer giving, loving companionship on a regular basis, and are intended to spend a large part of the day with their owner – at home, going for walks, car rides or places where pet dogs are allowed. Unlike Service Dogs, these dogs are not allowed public access to such places as grocery stores and restaurants.
Who can benefit from a Companion or Emotional Support Dog?
Diamond Dogs can help people whose lives are impacted by physical, developmental, or psychiatric disabilities. This can include families with children with autism, and veterans with medical conditions such as PTSD or other combat-related trauma such as TBI, depression or anxiety.
How can a Diamond Dog be of benefit?
A Diamond Dog can help in many different ways!
- The dogs offer companionship, affection and unconditional love, and can boost a person’s confidence and self-esteem.
- Interacting with a dog can have a calming influence, helping regulate breathing and lowering blood pressure and pulse rate, reducing stress levels. And it’s beneficial to the dog as well.
- The companionship of a dog can reduce a person’s sense of isolation, depression and anxiety, while improving emotional and mental well-being.
- Taking care of a dog can give people a settled routine with ongoing responsibilities and a sense of outward focus and fulfillment.
- Regular, shared daily exercise with a dog, such as walking, running or playing games can promote overall health and physical well-being.
- Social interaction with other people can be much easier when a dog is present. Acting as a bridge, the dog is a natural conversation starter encouraging positive dialogue and interactions between those nearby.
- For some, opening their heart to a loving dog can be an important step towards opening their heart to person-person relationships.
DITR begins the matching process by carefully reviewing applications as they are submitted. This step is followed by a home visit and interview to fully ascertain what type of dog is best for each applicant. Factors taken into account include the applicant’s lifestyle and specific aspects of a disability that may influence dog selection such as focusing on finding a calm, lower-energy dog for a person with an unsteady gait. Personality, support from family and friends, additional animals or children in the home, and each applicant’s preferences for size, breed, age, and activity level of a dog are noted. With this information, DITR trainers will search shelters and rescues to find the dog that most closely meets those requirements. After the dog is located and carefully screened, we then place the dog into the home of one of our trainers for up to 30 days for in-depth evaluation. During this time, the dog is taught house manners and basic obedience. The dog is also carefully introduced to a wide variety of people, places, animals, situations, and settings allowing trainers to get to know the dog’s temperament and health and wellness needs. After matching the dog and applicant, DITR conducts periodic follow-ups, to ensure things are going smoothly in the dog’s new home. We want this match to be the best fit possible, for both dog and applicant, for optimum success.