TOLEDO, Ohio – If you have a dog, you probably already know the role they play in your life. For some people with disabilities, however, dogs are not just companions, but also lifelines.
Champ is one of a dozen or so dogs. Greater Toledo Ability Center is training to eventually become a service dog. And while dogs like Champ train, they’re paired with the likes of Heather Sofo, who is one of many foster parents who play a key role in training service dogs.
“I’ve had him since July so he and I study together. We come to class with him and his three brothers once a week, “said Sofo.
At the moment the Ability Center needs people to expand its care program. Since the pandemic, it has become more difficult to house dogs through its typical agencies. Many like Sofo have made it their business to train dogs full time, which they think is incredibly rewarding.
“I think anyone can do it as long as you have the time. I’m a busy mom, I work full time and I still take the time to do what we need to do for his training, “said Sofo.
Ability Center officials said people with disabilities have already seen a variety of challenges related to the pandemic. They hope people will see how instrumental service dogs are to many people.
“People with disabilities are isolated anyway, so this time it was really a challenge to connect them to the resources they need,” said Mallory Crooks of the center.
“The selling point is the final reward. I had a friend who was interested in it and she could see her dog until the end, ”said Sofo.
If you are interested in taking in a foster dog, click here.