Facility Dogs

Sunny resting his head on a Viscardi student.The Guide Dog Foundation trains and provides facility dogs to provide animal-assisted therapy to support clients in assisted living facilities, special education, medical rehabilitation, and psychiatric programs. These dogs are specially trained to work with a handler who provides rehabilitation and therapeutic services. Dogs are placed on a case-by-case basis.

In a facility setting, the dog and the client work together to accomplish a goal set by a therapist or administrator, which makes the engagement more productive, and creates an environment or situation that is more comfortable and positive. Studies have shown that many individuals with disabilities or special needs respond more positively and more enthusiastically when a dog is involved. However, most importantly, facility dogs provide unconditional love and attention for those with whom they interact. 

Jimmy at the Larc School 

On April 14th, Jimmy, a two-year-old Golden Retriever was “hired” by Larc School. Jimmy has been in training his whole life and was very excited to become an integral part of our school community. After a year-long application process, Jimmy came to Larc through a partnership with the Guide Dog Foundation and is a facility dog for the Larc School educational and Adult Programs.

The Henry Viscardi School at The Viscardi Center in Albertson, New York, provides a traditional school setting for children with severe physical disabilities who may require medical treatment throughout the day, and offers a rigorous academic program and opportunities for personal growth and development.
Sunny joined the staff as a facility dog at the Henry Viscardi School in June 2019. He has been trained in a variety of tasks that he can perform on a daily basis: greeting the students as they arrive for the school day and “saying” goodbye when they head home; motivating them during their physical and speech therapy sessions; being a safe and nonjudgmental partner during reading activities; pushing power door buttons, walking with students as a reward, and acting as a social and emotion learning tool to assist children in managing stress and understanding emotions, empathy, goals, and relationships.

Mocha at Helen Keller National Center

The Helen Keller National Center provides training for individuals 16 and older who have combined vision and hearing loss. Its residential programs provide training in assistive technology, vocation services, orientation and mobility, and independent living skills.

Mocha, a fully trained guide dog, spends time in the Creative Arts and Low Vision departments. Art is her absolute favorite place. She loves greeting the students, allowing them to pet her, and provides a lot of love and comfort while in the room. Mocha also provides demo guide dog walks with students who may be interested in applying for a guide dog or were curious about walking with one.

Mona at Courthouse Dogs Foundation in Seattle

Mona has joined the team at Courthouse Dogs Foundation in Seattle Washington as an ambassador to their program, the organization works throughout the United States and internationally educating prosecutor’s offices, child advocacy centers, and family courts about the benefits of including courthouse facility dogs in the investigation and prosecution of crimes. When acting in her official capacity, Mona provides emotional support to the most vulnerable witnesses, this is a job she enjoys and excels at. Mona is trained with a variety of tasks and tricks that she performs to offer comfort to child during stressful legal proceedings or to a witness testifying in court. Mona can be found working two days a week with a victim advocate at the Seattle US Attorney’s office Mona where she supports their important efforts.  

Freddie at Cerebral Palsy Association of Nassau County

CP Nassau provides both residential services and day programs, as well as on-site medical facilities, for individuals with a wide range of disabilities, including those who have sustained traumatic brain injuries. The organization’s programs offer clients the opportunity to become self-reliant through the latest therapies, technology, and wellness initiatives. 

Freddie joined the Children’s Learning Center at CP Nassau in May 2021. In the mornings Freddie can be found at the entrance to the school, greeting students with a wave as they arrive for their day of learning. Many days Freddie will brighten a student’s day by walking them to their classroom. During the day, he travels between the facilities classrooms accompanying the school’s music therapist. Freddie’s days vary greatly, his job includes performing a few favorite tricks and a variety of tasks that encourage students learning motor and communication skills as well as offering incentive and motivation during speech, physical, and occupational therapies.

Questions? Please contact Consumer Services at ConsumerServices@GuideDog.org or call (866) 282-8047.