LAWTON, OK (TNN) - The CETES conference center was full of dogs earlier this evening, but they weren’t just ordinary pets. Those pups were all trained to help people deal with mental or physical disabilities.
Whether it's for therapy, emotional support or service, dogs are often the go to helping hand, or paw.
The difference between the three categories is often misleading, but tonight's program was designed to clear some of that up.
First up - what is the difference between emotional support and therapy dogs.
“emotional support dogs are a person’s own personal dog for their self and they provide comfort and companionship for them, just the one person. Therapy dogs provide comfort, companionship and smiles to a variety of dogs and people in the community" said Keri Brammer
Both of these have to be registered, and go through obedience training. Service dogs have their own set of criteria.
“Service dogs really go hand in hand with people who have disabilities, those that need help doing things in their day to day lives" said Nechelle Wigfall
Unlike Emotional Support and Therapy Dogs, Service dogs don’t have to be registered, but they are normally trained to do specific duties, like reminding someone to take their medicine, or help someone who is blind get around easier.
Both Paws With Love and Cameron University were very excited to have the ability to educate students on these differences, and how necessary these dogs are for the people who need them the most.
“It’s very important that we discussed all of this today, and it was important to get students involved too that want to show up and learn what these dogs are for. They are not pets, they are working dogs" said Wigfall
After the presentations, dogs and their handlers from Paws with Love gave the people in attendance an opportunity to meet the dogs. It’s clear the owners and dogs themselves love helping people anyway they can.
“We are proud of what we do, and we enjoy bringing the companionship and smiles to the people that we do. When we walk into a room and the people light up that makes our day, that makes it all worthwhile” said Brammer
I learned today it’s always important to ask permission before you pet these dogs, because you could be distracting them from accomplishing the task they were trained to do.