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Julie  Stachowiak, Ph.D.

Balance Dogs for MS

By July 9, 2007

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I thought this was about the neatest thing when I read about it - having a large-breed service dog that can help people that are mobile, but just a little unsteady at times. They can help people when getting up and down from chairs or beds or give them support to lean on when they need it.

As I have been writing about fatigue in MS recently, I was also intrigued to learn that these dogs can sense when their owners are experiencing fatigue. They encourage people to rest by nudging them toward a chair or wall to lean against.

Of course, they also perform all kinds of other services that helps their owners conserve energy, like picking up dropped objects and turning off lights.

Learn more about Balance Dogs for Multiple Sclerosis.

December 4, 2009 at 1:07 pm
(1) Service Dogs says:

It’s very important to get a properly adjusted harness for you and your service dog if they are going to be used for balance.

March 10, 2010 at 12:08 pm
(2) Pamela says:

My friend, who has Parkinson’s, has a very helpful service dog–golden retriever. I have a labrador retriever who is not a trained service dog but is a great help for me even if only for my mental well-being.

March 10, 2010 at 12:55 pm
(3) Robin says:

I read about balance dogs for MS; I have a certified therapy dog, bought the service dog training books, and have been training my dog to be my service dog. I never lean on her, however, she does lean against my leg when I’m standing, this helps me to get up on my own. I am also training her to pick up things I drop, so I don’t have to bend over. Walking with her, people walk AROUND me, so I am not jostled like before.

March 11, 2010 at 12:45 am
(4) Carolyn Cordon says:

this is lovely – I’ve recently been diagnosed with MS and I’ve been using my male pharaoh hound to lean on sometimes.

March 11, 2010 at 1:56 pm
(5) Judy says:

My service dog, Jacob, is trained to “brace” for me when I’m down on the floor for any reason. The only problem is that, no matter why I’m down there, he wants me to get up. If I’m, say, wiping up the bathroom floor, he crowds into the bathroom with me and keeps licking my face until I give him the cue to brace for me. Then he pushes his front feet hard onto the floor so he’ll be steady while I lean on him to get up. Heaven forbid that I should forget and get up by myself! It breaks his heart!

January 18, 2012 at 2:33 pm
(6) Pam says:

We have a 150 pound male Rottweiler. So far, I haven’t needed his “skills” for my MS but my mother, who has balance issues due to mini-strokes, has been the recipient of his care. When she gets up in the morning, he greets her by putting his head in her lap until she seems totally awake. Then, when she gets up, he stands across her path and blocks her from walking. She doesn’t realize that he’s making her get her balance. She says “he always blocks my way!” and then, with her hand on his head, walks around him. He spends his days by her side and provides a steady guide. What a wonderful companion!

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