The Program

adoption-day

“Gidget and I went on a walk for the third day in a row! For those of you who don’t know what a big deal that is, previous to getting her, I never would’ve chosen to leave the house alone–we’ve also had three different unknown men unexpectedly come to the house to work on things and I didn’t have any panic attacks! Gidget has already made a huge impact on my quality of life, and she’s still in training. Thanks Jane!”
– Gidget’s Handler


Service dogs have been assisting the blind, the hearing impaired, those in wheelchairs and with other disabilities for a long time. Healing Companions, Inc., brings this service to people in the Northeastern Ohio area that are severely limited in their ability to function due to symptoms related to psychiatric disabilities (depression, post-traumatic stress, bi-polar disorder, anxiety, panic attacks, and more).

Our Psychiatric Service Dogs (PSDs) have helped improve our client’s lives in profound and unexpected ways, allowing them to gain self-esteem, assertiveness, and self-confidence, and go on to live independent, functional and productive lives. These dogs provide emotional support, as all dogs do, but PSDs are specifically trained to perform tasks unique to the individual’s needs.

Psychiatric SErvice Dogs Program-grp

 

In each case, training is customized to the unique needs of the client. Some examples of the tasks we train our PSDs to perform include:

  • Providing assistance during a medical crisis (bringing medication, emergency phone, etc.)
  • Guiding a client disoriented by anxiety,
  • Conducting a room search to alleviate fear of intruders or of the unknown,
  • Providing assistance with balance and mobility,
  • Interrupting a panic attack,
  • Finding a client’s car for them if they are dissociating. (video of find car)
  • Seeking help for an incapacitated client, and more.
A complete list of the special tasks we train our dogs to perform is available here.

 

Do I qualify for a PSD?

In order to qualify, you must be 18 or older, a resident of northeast Ohio, and fit the criteria under the Americans with Disabilities Act as severely limited in your ability to function due to your mental illness.

If you are a veteran, please go to the assistance dogs international link below for the list of service dog organizations that provide them to veterans so you can access VA premises with your dog. http://www.assistancedogsinternational.org/

If you are under 18 years old, please go to the link below for service dog organizations that specialize in training dogs for children and work with triad teams. http://www.assistancedogsinternational.org/

If an individual does meet the qualifications, it is recommended that he or she consults with their mental health professional and discuss whether or not they would benefit from having a PSD, and whether they are capable of providing proper care for the dog. We recommend that they consult with a mental health professional that will assess them and support their choice in seeking a service dog. This decision must take into account the client’s mental condition and their ability to care for the dog, and must coordinate with other forms of mental health treatment.

It is also important that the individual recognizes that they will need to cover the costs of caring for the dog once training is over (ex: feeding, veterinary care, equipment replacement) and must demonstrate the financial capacity to do that.

If you are interested in being placed with a Psychiatric Service Dog, you must complete our intake form before contacting Healing Companions. When we receive your form you will be contacted for additional information. Click here to complete the form.