Formerly known as The Austin Dog Alliance, the name change in 2017 came with the motivation to eventually expand services outside of the Austin area. There are many national programs available that provide trained service dogs to people in need, however, the cost can be prohibitive. According to Service Dogs For America, a North Dakota non-profit, their cost to place a dog is $20,000. The Dog Alliance provides the opportunity to have a service dog and offset the expense by being a part of the training process.
Trainers and staff are very clear about the expectations of the program by requiring an orientation before enrollment. Understanding the laws that apply to service dogs, identifying if your dog is a good fit for the program, and making the commitment to the training program are just a few of the introductory topics covered. The cost is dependent on the level of training needed and the time commitment the handler is willing to make. Class fees are listed on their site. To find out more information or to enroll in the Introduction Seminar, contact Debi Kraker at (512) 335-7100 or register online.
Taffy just saw a swimming pool for the first time and stayed focused. Learning how to handle distractions is an important part of the training process. Taffy is living with a family and is undergoing full time training for the Hounds For Heroes program.
The Hounds For Heroes Program trains dogs to mitigate the symptoms of service related post-traumatic stress and mobility assistance. On March 23, 2018, The Dog Alliance welcomed their first litter of carefully bred Labrador retriever pups for the Hounds For Heroes Program. Those puppies have now transitioned to living in homes and full time training via classes and outings. You can follow their progress (like the cutest visit to Gold’s Gym ever) on their Facebook page. The program has pre-requisites and costs little to nothing to veterans, thanks to generous sponsors.
I Want To Help But I Don’t Need A Service Dog
There are countless programs and opportunities to get involved with The Dog Alliance.
Dolph (pictured above) is a trained member of the Bow Wow Reading Program. He takes his story time with kids very seriously and wants a quiet environment so students can focus and improve.
The Bow Wow Reading Dogs are certified therapy dogs that visit schools with handlers and listen to at-risk students reading aloud. While visiting schools, dogs are accompanied by trained handlers, many of which are retired teachers and principals. Teams visit elementary schools and are often integrated into a student’s reading intervention plan. In self-contained classrooms, dogs often help with reading and with social and motor skills. Advanced Skills Training is required for dogs that serve in this environment and handlers are sometimes social workers or special education teachers. You can also find Bow Wow Reading Dogs at libraries and on college campuses during finals. Nothing encourages reading and helps reduce testing stress like a furry friend! To find out more about being a part of a team, training your dog to be a Bow Wow Reader, and to see a really cute dog video of Bow Wow Readers, visit The Dog Alliance.
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You might be surprised by how many group and individual volunteer opportunities exist at The Dog Alliance. If you want to volunteer as a team or individually, there are opportunities on and off-site to assist. They even have a garden club for those interested in keeping their 7-acre property beautiful. If you are interested in volunteering with your dog, they work with over 300 partner facilities and has 170 pet therapy teams (dog and handler) working in the Greater Austin area. To find out more about opportunities and requirements, visit their volunteer page.
Events And Other Programs
Attending an event or enrolling in a special program drives fundraising and awareness, too! The Dog Alliance offers agility and behavior training courses for any dog. They have an on-site agility course and dog park, along with spacious classrooms for training. Their trainers are invested in getting to know you and your dog and figuring out the best course of action to get you where you want to be.
Summer Camp for kids fills up quickly, thanks to an incredible agenda for ages 5 through 15. Camp instructors are a mix of trainers and certified teachers. Sessions for ages 9 through 14 allow campers to bring their own dog for training. If you don’t have a dog or if your dog is not necessarily a “happy camper,” The Dog Alliance has dogs you can “borrow” for camp.
Skip the bounce house and head to The Dog Alliance for your child’s next birthday celebration. Birthday Parties are two hours long and dog-themed, of course. Parties are designed for kids ages 2 through 13 but they have hosted adult parties, too! See their party page for details and cost and to contact staff for availability.
The Dog Alliance is always accepting donations that support all of their amazing programs. To keep up to date on their goals and progress, and to have adorable puppy pictures fill your feed, follow their Instagram and Facebook accounts.
Featured photo courtesy The Dog Alliance Facebook page.