Welcome to website of the Finnish Service Dog Association
Service dogs are trained helpers assisting persons with mobility disabilities in everyday life. The dog can be a key factor enabling person’s independent life, ability to move and cope with the challenges of everyday life. It enhances and maintains the physical and social performance in everyday functions: work, studies and leisure activities.
The service dog at work always wears a vest harness with an assistant dog logo, which helps people to recognize the assistant dog. As stipulated in the law assistant dog is allowed to go anywhere the user goes in his or her normal life, even into the places normal dogs are not allowed.
The training of assistant dog pups starts when they are 7-8 weeks of age. When the trained assistant dog is handed over to the user at the age of approximately 2 years, it masters a great variety of useful skills. These specially trained dogs can help the user by retrieving objects that are out of their person’s reach, opening and closing doors, turning light switches off and on.
Dogs are also able to help their persons the user to do the laundry and get dressed. Dog’s skills can also be tailored based on the user’s individual needs, from helping a person to get up from the bed or carrying a contained breathing machine. FPD’s service the service dogs are trained in the town of Kemiö in the Axxell Brusaby School. The dogs trained in Kemiö are purchased by The Finnish Association of People with Physical Disabilities (FDP) and given to users. The Assistance Dogs Europe association audits the dog training and all operations. Service dogs are also trained by individual users and dog training specialists. The service dog association may support the acquisition of privately trained service dog.
Before a dog can start in the service officially of a person with physical disabilities, it has to pass stringent test assessing the dog’s personality, health and skills. The FPD also systematically follows up the skill level of the dogs throughout their whole service career.
The service dogs are applied from FPD. A training dog is handed over to its user free of charge; users will however have to cover the daily costs involved with the dog. The ownership of the dogs stays with The FDP.
At the moment there are a bit more than 70 service dogs in Finland although the need for them is multiple to that. Because of the great demand and scarcity resources it can take several years from the point of application to receiving the dog. In Finland the service dog operations are funded mainly by the Slot Machine Association and donations from private persons.
The service dog association is working in collaboration with FPD for shifting the funding of service system in Finland to be covered from state budget.
More info available: www.invalidiliitto.fi/en/finnish-association-people-physical-disabilities