KMSB "Fox-11 Forum," Sunday, 9/26/10, 7:30 AM

Posted: Updated:
By Bryce Potter By Bryce Potter

Host Bob Lee interviews Chris Pendleton, Board Chair, Veronica Zimmerman, instructor, and Danny Simone,  client, Handi-Dogs, Inc., the oldest service dog training program in the country. Founded in Tucson in 1973, Handi-Dogs was incorporated as a non-profit community service organization in 1977. 

Pendleton says they train people with disabilities how to train their own dogs, or dogs that have been provided to them, to become service dogs. He says trainers work with clients who have a variety of disabilities, such as mobility problems, hearing and/or vision impairment. He says any size breed of dog can be trained for service work if the dog is healthy and physically able to do the tasks required of it. Pendleton adds service dogs have certain legal rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act. He says the “no pets allowed” regulation may not be applied to certified service dogs. 

Zimmerman says at Handi-Dogs, dogs learn to carry out many practical tasks which disabled people find difficult or impossible to do by themselves. She says an easy, humane training method, known as "clicker training" is used, which is based on positive reinforcement. She saysd dogs that complete the “Canine Good Citizen” program are certified as a result of their good behavior in almost any sort of public environment. 

Simone, who has a prosthetic leg and has difficulty bending down, climbing stars and getting up from chairs, shows some of the basic tasks his dog, “Hooch,” can perform.  He says “Hooch” can pick up objects that he drops, can bring him crutches, and can actually assist him in getting up if he falls down.  He saysd other Handi-dogs can alert their owner of a ringing phone or a knock at the door.