lady in a wheelchair and service dog

Please note that Diamonds in the Ruff of Virginia, Inc. (DITR) places dogs that demonstrate potential for service work directly with organizations that will train and place them. We do not place Service Dogs directly with applicants. The following information is provided to help you decide what type of dog is the best fit for your needs and lifestyle.

Is a Service Dog Right for Me?

Diamonds in the Ruff does not train and place Service Dogs; however, we do want to help you carefully consider the different roles dogs can play in terms of your specific needs and lifestyle in deciding whether a highly trained Service Dog or an emotional support/companion “Diamond Dog” is the right fit for you. One factor to consider is the type and amount of assistance you may need. For example, do you need a dog to perform specific instrumental tasks to assist you with daily activities or are you simply looking for a cuddly dog to provide love and companionship? Another important consideration is where and when you may require support. Do you need support on an ongoing basis throughout the day or will having a Companion Dog to greet you and engage when you’re home fit your needs? 

If you need consistent support throughout the day, then a Service Dog may be right for you. 

Service dogWhat special qualities does a service dog have?

While Service Dogs may look like other dogs on the outside, it’s what’s on the inside that truly counts.  Service Dogs are unique, thanks to who they are and what they know. They possess innate tendencies that make them ideal partners for those who need them. At their core, Service Dogs are naturally and deeply connected with people. They are eager to please, and they thrive when working with a trainer and when performing daily tasks while working with their partners.  

Service Dogs are also naturally resilient. They must handle many daily challenges - from sights and sounds of busy streets and parking lots, to encounters with other dogs. These dogs are also adept at navigating high-intensity emergency situations with calm and steady confidence. Regardless of the environment or situation, every Service Dog must have the ability to maintain self control and stay focused on meeting his or her partner’s needs.  

Service dog Years of intensive training help to hone each dog’s natural strengths and to teach them extensive taskwork in order to prepare them to become an ideal partner for a person living with a disability.

How can a Service Dog help me?

Service Dogs are specially trained to assist people with disabilities. Their tasks may include providing mobility assistance (such as balance and stability), retrieving items, guiding their partners who are  visually impaired or blind, alerting to sounds for hard of hearing or deaf partners, responding to chemical or behavioral changes to alert to oncoming seizures, or even calming a partner with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  

Service Dogs are covered by the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA). They are the only dogs that - along with their partners- are allowed broad public access rights under federal law. This means that Service Dogs can accompany their partners most everywhere, including restaurants, hotels, grocery stores, movie theaters, and a host of other public venues.

Service dogPlease use the Following Link to learn more about the Americans With Disabilities Act:

How do I find out more about Service Dogs?

At present the Service Dog industry is highly unregulated so finding a credible trainer or training organization can be a daunting task. Service Dogs are in high demand and with some organizations charging $20,000 - $30,000 for dogs, it is important that you do your homework before adding a Service Dog to your household.

Service dogAssistance Dogs International (ADI) is an excellent resource. ADI is a worldwide coalition of non-profit organizations that train and place Service Dogs. ADI’s primary goal is to establish and promote standards of excellence in all areas of Service Dog acquisition, training, and partnership.   

ADI has established an accreditation process for Service Dog training organizations that strive to meet and exceed the high standards that they have established. ADI accredited organizations undergo rigorous reviews and are regularly assessed to ensure that ADI’s high standards are maintained. 

Learning more about ADI and accredited organizations is a good first step to exploring the process of finding a Service Dog that may meet your needs. Please visit the link below for additional information.