Alaska Assistance Dogs (AAD) was incorporated as a non-profit in March of 2001. Its mission was to engage in charitable and educational activities, specifically to provide professionally trained assistance dogs & support services, and ancillary services & programs, to assist individuals with mobility impairments and other special needs.
Carole Shay completed training with Dr. Bonnie Bergin, the founder of the service dog concept, at Assistance Dog Institute (now the accredited Bergin University of Canine Studies).
AAD started a volunteer teen program in Wasilla to train service dogs purchased from Assistance Dog Institute. Trained at Cook Inlet Kennel Club facility and public venues.
Began a reading program with AAD service pups-in-training at Tanaina Elementary School.
Introduced service dog training to Burchell High School via a Big Lake Lions Club teen.
Trained service dogs and gave educational programs at Providence Extended Care Center (PECC) and Mary Conrad Center, Horizon House and Pioneer Homes.
Trained and placed two facility dogs, one for in Mary Conrad Center, a second for the dementia unit at PECC.
AAD received support from East Anchorage Rotary Club, Spenard Lions Club, American Legion, Lutheran Thrivent Foundation, Alaska Mental Health Trust, Combined Federal Campaign, and private donations.
Alaska Assistance Dogs teen trainers received the Spirit of Youth award, accepted by Lead Teen Trainer Jessica Ladd of Big Lake.
Carole Shay returned to college for a Master of Science in Counseling Psychology, graduating in 2006. Carole developed therapeutic service dog training program. Graduate project compared therapeutic benefit of service dog training gained by service dog trainers, individuals receiving a trained service dog and teen girls in Providence Residential Treatment Facility. It was determined that all gained a benefit. Qualified for Licensed Psychological Counselor (#574) 11/2008. (Carole joined the staff of Alaska Children’s Services June of 2006. Only a proscriptive use of service dogs in therapy was supported.)
Breann Campbell, recipient of an AAD service dog, received the Spirit of Youth Award.
“Sparky,” an AAD hearing dog, received the American Red Cross Rescue Dog designation.
AAD wrote a $50,000 grant for a one year therapeutic service dog training program on behalf of Catholic Social Services (CSS). Alaska Mental Health Trust awarded the grant, which brought the therapeutic service dog training (TSDT) program to McAuley and Jesse Lee teen group homes in Anchorage. The program concluded in May of 2008 with a student-created assembly for the East High School senior class. A Win-Win program.
In the spring semester 2009, Carole Shay and Donna Lee Jardin began the first elementary school therapeutic service dog training for twenty three students, grades K-4. Carolyn Stone joined the volunteer team. Semester ended with students putting on an assembly for 200 of their peers to demonstrate what they had learned. Amazing kids!
Fall semester 2009 began a full year of therapeutic service dog training for 21 pre-school students. During the year, 31 older students were added for a total of fifty-two participants.
Support by Alaska Mental Health Trust began in March of 2010. Spring semester the school classroom was visited by State Legislators Gara, Wielechowski and Peterson; Charles Huggins’ representative, Dee Dee Jonrow, HSS and UAA professor Linda Chamberlain and two aides from Senator Begich’s office. Senator Begich personally visited when school began the Fall 2010 semester.
AAD begins family program with Stone Soup Group’s Pets and People for youngsters with autism. The kids taught service dog commands to service dogs. Also learned skills in focus, eye contact, socialization, noise comfort, communication. Incredible kids; lucky dogs.
Changes in 2010. AAD reorganized, restructured and added members to Board of Directors.
In June AAD began its association with the new Veteran’s facility on Muldoon. AAD trains service dogs for veterans with PTSD, depression and anxiety.
In July, two board members, Carolyn Stone and Donna Lee Jardin, were certified as service dog trainers by Dr. Bonnie Bergin at Bergin University of Canine Studies in Santa Rosa, CA.
AAD was accepted into the state-wide Pick, Click and Give program of giving through the Permanent Fund Dividend.
Agnew-Beck and Associates through Alaska Mental Trust is providing support for assessment and organization sustainability.
In October, Yummy Chummies became an AAD corporate sponsor.
Alaska Assistance Dogs has trained or trained-and-placed many service dogs and 2 facility dogs. AAD continues to educate businesses and the public about service dogs and Alaskans with disabilities.
Alaska Assistance Dogs was the recipient of Toyota’s 100 Cars For Good Campaign. Toyota presented AAD with a brand new Toyota Highlander!!!
- In early 2011 AAD’s Program Therapist designed a model for service dog training for Alaskans with PTSD.
- 2012 – After almost two years, the rest of sixteen AAD service dog and self-trainer teams were taking their ADI Public Access Test to become service dog teams under ADA. (Photos below).
- The Stone Soup Group/AAD partnership for kids with autism continued into 2013. The win-win service dog training program is now headed by one of AAD’s trainers in Anchorage.
- AAD presented 16 service dogs teams in a January 2013 Graduation gathering. The dogs provide service for PTSD, Diabetes, Multiple Sclerosis, balance issues and Traumatic Brain Injury.
- In 2012 AAD finished its 3½ year service dog training program for Mt. View Elementary School.
- In 2012 AAD began focusing on therapeutic service dog training programs for kids and teens in Mat-Su Valley. Presentations and pilot programs were given to LINKS, Co-Occurring Disorders Institute (CoDI), Colony Next Step and Family Promise.
- AAD’s first partnership program in 2013 began in the Mat-Su Valley for kids and teens with connected with Alaska Attachment and Bonding Associates (AABA).
Another year, more to add…stay tuned.