ONE INDIVIDUAL, ONE DOG, ONE LIFE AT A TIME
Earlier this summer, Canada celebrated one hundred and fifty years. Within that time frame, National Service Dogs has celebrated more than twenty years of service to Canadians in need.
National Service Dogs mission:
To empower people to achieve their full potential with strategically trained and certified service dogs, catalysts for restorative change
It began in 1996 when a mother was desperately searching for a service dog that could help her autistic three year old son. Later that year he was matched with Shade; a quiet, sensitive black lab. This founding team and their incredible success caught the attention of the media and the Geneva Centre for Autism.
This triumph led to the development of the first Certified Service Dog for Autism Program of its kind in the world. The service dog model created by NSD has become the international standard for Certified Service Dogs for children with autism. In 2005, National Service Dogs received the R.L. Petersen Award for Non-Profit Innovation presented by the Bridgeway Foundation in Cambridge, ON. Later that year, founders Chris and Heather Fowler and Danielle Forbes received the Gerry Bloomfield Award presented by Autism Ontario for their contributions to individuals with autism. In 2006, NSD received the Cambridge Mayor’s Award for Work Place Training and Development.
Since their initial success in 1996, National Service Dogs has been training Labrador and Golden Retrievers to assist autistic children and their families.
Our dogs increase safety levels and alleviate the bolting behaviours common in children with autism by acting as an anchor when tethered to the child. We are proud to be the first school in the world to provide this service to families with children with autism
During this time, NSD has graduated more than 350 Certified Service Dog Teams, helped many other service dog organizations around the world start their own autism programs, and developed the following, additional programs:
(click links for additional information)
In 2011, NSD launched this program to assist veterans with long term post traumatic stress disorder making them the first accredited service dog organization in Canada to have this kind of program. This comprehensive program, was researched and developed by long time Puppy Raiser and former NSD Volunteer Coordinator, Mara Engel, to help veterans deal with the issues surrounding hyper vigilance, anxiety and transitioning into mainstream society. In 2013 the program was opened to first responders suffering with PTSD.
In 2013, National Service Dogs’ first CAI Dog was placed. This became the first CAI program in Ontario, and one of only three in Canada.
The dogs are matched with professionals from a variety of disciplines to work as partners in their therapy, to address Health and Wellness in our community.
The Companion Dog Program was founded in 2002 and was formalized in 2009 in recognition of the special bonds that develop between families and their dogs. The dogs do not have public access or any specific skills training aside from basic obedience. They are placed with children with various disabilities.
The Companion Dog Program has been instrumental in increasing our ability to assist more families in need and has allowed us to utilize over 90% of our dogs
Dogs who are deemed not suitable for the above programs transition into family pets (companions of a different degree). The dogs have no specific skills training and are generally between one to two years of age upon placement.
Everyone at NSD is dedicated to expanding the National Service Dog family of clients and quality of services
There are many ways people can become involved: volunteering, sponsorship, donations, and assisting with fundraising or by attending a fundraising event.
Thank you National Service Dogs for the incredible work you do,