Saturday, May 2, 2009

The Big Disconnect

There is a disconnect in the dog world. Terry Griffith, my co-host at Bark Radio, put words to it recently. It was the day we visited the spinal cord injury unit of our local veterans' hospital with Murphy, my therapy dog.

Murphy is a 90-pound chocolate Lab. On our visits, when wheelchair-bound patients ask about him, the conversation eventually goes to the difference in therapy dogs and service dogs. Which leads to the question "how can I get a service dog?"

The answer? There are a few organizations to whom a veteran can apply for a service dog. But I am here to tell you, there aren't nearly enough service dogs to go around.

At Bark Radio we try to spread the word to spay and neuter and to adopt dogs from rescue groups and shelters. The problem? Too many dogs, not enough homes. And this is where Terry comes in. "There is a big disconnect between dogs who need homes and people who need service dogs," he said. "How can we connect the two?"

I believe that a process can be developed to identify dogs with potential as working dogs in the general population of rescue dogs. How to accomplish it? I don't know. Will there be a gazillion stumbling blocks? Yes. But will it be worth the effort? Bigger yes.

Action begins with thought. Let's make this happen.

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