Assistance dogs

On this week’s show, Pete started by mentioning the recent death of his mother, B, who passed away on January 10th after a long journey with Alzheimers.

After this, the discussion moved on to “assistance dogs”, which were pioneered in Europe by Irish Guide Dogs. In Ireland, Dogs for the Disabled, My Canine Companion and Autism Assistance Dogs Ireland also train dogs to help people in need. There’s a huge waiting list for such dogs. The fact that there has been a greater demand than supply for dogs to help people has led to issues with what might be called “quality control”.  Anyone can get a dog, teach it a few tricks, then sell it on as an “assistance animal”. The leading professional groups in Ireland have countered this by setting up a voluntary coalition of assistance dog associations with the highest training and welfare standards as set out by Assistance Dogs International ( )and the International Guide Dogs Federation ( The group is called “Irish Assistance Dogs”, and details are listed below.

Irish Guide Dogs for the blind

Irish Guide Dogs for the blind is Ireland’s national charity dedicated to helping persons who are blind or vision impaired and families of children with autism to achieve improved mobility and independence.

My Canine Companion

My Canine Companion is a national charity founded on the 16th June 2011 by Cliona O’Rourke. Our main purpose is to provide highly trained and skilled service dogs to people with disabilities, particularly autism.

Dogs for the Disabled

Dogs for the Disabled is a unique charity founded in 2007 to improve the lives of children and adults living with physical disabilities in Ireland. We are comprised mainly of volunteers and we receive no government funding to provide our service.

Autism Assistance Dogs Ireland

Autism Assistance Dogs Ireland is a national charity providing highly trained assistance dogs for children with autism and their families.

Messages & Questions from listeners

  •  Is there anyway to deter a spayed male cat from spraying in the house?
  •  I’ve sold my house and have to move in with my sister, we both have Siamese cats so what is the best way to get them to accept each other?
  •  I have a 9 year old female Golden Retriever called Jessie. She was up at 3am this morning desperately trying to get out to the garden to eat grass and make herself sick. She seemed ok this morning and had her breakfast but shortly after she needed to get out to eat grass again! She occasionally eats grass but this seems much more intense. What should I do? Thank you. From Linda in Rathfarnham.
  •  I have a four-year-old sheepdog, she is a wonderful beautiful energetic animal but has constantly got bloodshot eyes. She’s very well fed and very well cared for and we are very concerned about her.

Listen to the podcast:

Start Podcast


  • Sherry says:

    I suffer from non epileptic attacks and my personal dog is able to tell me when it is going to happen a few minutes in advance. She hasn’t been trained but by telling me I am able to get to a safe place and even not have my attack by doing some grounding work. It would be great benefit to me if she could come out to public places with me as that’s where I get them most. Would I have to register as a service dog and if so how? I know having her with me will help prevent any more attacks.

  • Gill devenney says:

    Hi Pete,
    I am a carer to my daughter Isabella. Isabella has dyspraxia and a moderate intellectual disability. Isabella was diagnosed with ms in 2016. Her walking and stability is poor.
    I am waiting to here back from 2 places I have emailed.
    Searching the web, I see it’s thousands of dollars. As you can imagine carers aren’t all that well off. Now I’m wondering if it is possible? If it is can I ask for a hypoallergenic dog? I’m just asking as I don’t need the embarrassment of saying I simply can’t afford a service dog.

    • petethevet says:

      Hypoallergenic dogs are not really possible. Some dogs are less allergenic than others, arguably, because they shed less fur, but all dogs can create allergic reactions. There is a huge queue for assistance dogs, and they are costly to train, so this is a big challenge for you. I know people who have crowd funded to get one, and perhaps that’s an answer? No need to be embarrassed about this; it’s a common issue.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Please note that I am unable to answer veterinary questions in comments. If you have questions or concerns about your pet's health it is always better to contact your vet.

Privacy | Terms and Conditions