Who We Serve

Retrieving Independence recipients

Over the two-year training period, the dogs learn to help all kinds of people:

  • They alert people with diabetes when their blood sugar is high or low, using their sense of smell
  • If their owner has a seizure, they roll them over, lick their face until they come to and press a button that dials 9-1-1
  • They act as support animals for children and adults with anxiety, depression, paranoia or developmental disabilities
  • They assist disabled veterans in household activities like getting the mail, flushing the toilet and doing laundry

For children and adults living with disabilities, Retrieving Independence can significantly enhance your quality of life.

As a critical component of our training program, our proven matching process promotes a true partnership between the service dog and their future owner. This process fosters trust and thrives on the unique bond that grows as the service dog and owner become a team.

We have trained dogs to help with the following conditions:

  • Diabetes
  • Psychological Issues
  • Mobility Disorders
  • Seizure
  • Huntington’s Disease
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Labrune Syndrome
  • Tourette’s Syndrome
  • Stroke
  • Sleepwalking
  • Aphasia
  • And many combinations of several of these conditions

If you have more questions about our service dogs and what they can do for you, please do not hesitate to ask. We are more than willing to work with you if you need a service dog to do a particular skill.

Service Dog Skills

Our service dogs are experienced with numerous tasks. At Retrieving Independence, we’ve identified key categories of our Comfort/Needs-Based Tasks.

Bracing-Based Tasks

Appropriate matching of dog and human stature and weight required.

  • Assist with transfer from wheelchair to bed, toilet, bathtub or van seat
  • Walk step-by-step on stairways, bracing between each step
  • Dog positions self and braces to help partner catch balance while partner rises from a chair
  • Prevent falls and stumbling by bracing on command
  • Help partner up from chair or floor by tugging a strap
  • Assist partner to turn over in bed

Carrying-Based Tasks

  • Carry a basket of items around the house
  • Transport items upstairs or downstairs to a specific location
  • Carry items while following a partner using a cane, walker, or other mobility aids
  • Carry mail or newspaper inside the house
  • Carry items from the partner to a caregiver or family member in another room
  • Carry groceries inside in canvas bags
  • Take credit card or money from partner and give to store clerk and return to partner

Comfort-Based Tasks

  • Barrier in social and personal space
  • Awareness in environmental settings to make partner aware of approaching person
  • Move on command to mark human partner’s comfortable boundaries
  • Snuggle, hug or lick to calm human partner

Deposit-Based Tasks

  • Put trash, junk mail into a wastebasket or garbage can
  • Deposit cans/bottles into a recycling bin
  • Deliver items to a closet
  • Deposit dog toys into designated container
  • Put prescription bag, mail and other items on counter top
  • Load clothing into front loading washing machine
  • Transfer items from front-loading washer to dryer and a laundry basket
  • Deposit unbreakable drinking vessels and dinnerware to sink

Emergency Assistance

  • Bark for help
  • Carry a pre-arranged object to caregiver as a signal that help is needed
  • Press button for emergency help/summons 911
  • Find the caregiver and lead back to partner
  • Wake up a partner in response to alarm
  • In the event of seizure, roll partner on side and brace to prevent harm
  • Interrupt repetitive tics and actions of partner
  • Alert to high and low blood sugar, get water or juice from refrigerator and retrieve test and insulin bags
  • Lick partner during and after seizure to assist in transition

Nose-Nudge-Based Tasks

  • Nudge shut the cupboard door, drawers, dishwasher
  • Push the button for emergency alert systems
  • Operate button or push plate on electric commercial doors, crosswalks, elevators
  • Turn light switches on and off
  • Assist wheelchair user to regain sitting position if slumped over
  • Return foot to the footboard of a wheelchair, arms inside chair when going through doorways, or help get leg into bed

Harness-Based Tasks

Appropriate matching of dog and human stature and weight required.

  • Assist moving wheelchair on flat surfaces (partner holds onto harness pull strap)
  • Brace, providing a counter-balance to assist in walking (with a hard handle on harness)
  • Transport textbooks, business supplies or other items in a wagon (maximum load based on the stature of dog)
  • Help ambulatory partner to climb stairs by bracing between steps
  • Brace on command to keep an ambulatory partner from stumbling or falling
  • Pull partner out of seats using the handle of the harness.

Paw-Based Tasks

  • Cupboard door – shut it with one paw
  • Dryer door – shut it with one paw
  • Refrigerator and freezer door – one forepaw or both
  • Depress floor pedal device to turn on appliances or lamps
  • Close heavy doors by jumping up and using both forepaws
  • Put forepaws in the lap of a wheelchair user, hold that position so partner can access medications, cell phone or other backpack items

Retrieval-Based Tasks

  • Find known named items (such as phone) in any room in the house
  • Pick up dropped items (e.g., coins, keys, credit cards, bags, papers, phone, anything)
  • Bring clothes, shoes, slippers to assist with dressing
  • Fetch basket with medications
  • Fetch wheelchair, walker, cane, or crutches when out of reach
  • Retrieve items from across room or from shelves when pointed at by human partner with laser light
  • Pull blanket over partner

Tug-Based Tasks

  • Open cupboard doors with attached strap
  • Open drawers using a strap
  • Open refrigerator door with a strap or suction cup device
  • Answer doorbell and open front door with a strap attached to lever handle
  • Open and shut interior home, office doors
  • Assist partner to remove socks, shoes, slippers, pants, shirts