DogAbility's Mission: To provide innovative canine-assisted experiences, using certified activity/therapy dogs with skilled handlers that afford stimulation, encouragement and entertainment to better the lives and well-being of children and adults of all abilities in the community.
DogAbility is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization approved for reimbursement of self-directed funds through OPWDD.
DogAbility operates a unique and innovative program where participants are invited to visit an all-inclusive location where a specialized canine-interactive experience is aligned with an individual's needs. Utilizing certified dogs, supervised by professionals and/or devoted volunteers we can provide education, recreation, socialization, inspiration or comfort to numerous individuals and groups. Activities are designed for those persons and/or groups who would benefit from time with our dogs in these areas, as well as physical, emotional or psychological improvement. Participants include adults and children with and without special needs. As everything can be found in this centralized location, it allows for efficient operation, and meets strict safety requirements. DogAbility is conveniently located on Long Island near major highways. Entrances and parking at the center’s location are handicap-accessible.
Up until this time, traditional therapy dog visits consisted of handlers transporting their dogs to various locations where sedentary visits are the norm, as when visiting hospitals, senior centers, and hospice or trauma units. Not all people who can benefit from a canine-related experience are isolated or confined to a facility themselves, and they can now attend activities at our center and experience a session that can impact their lives. Although DogAbility does provide passive experiences with dogs, it also offers action-oriented activities utilizing elements of canine sport. Among the activities provided at DogAbility are private and group sessions where participants engage with trained dogs who run through tunnels, go over jumps and onto platforms. Currently, there are no local businesses which engage adults and children with and without disabilities in canine sport as well as offer canine education to children and adults in one location. Offering multiple activities at our location brings enhanced value to DogAbility participants.
Our staff of professionals collaborate to design specific activities that meet the needs of various individuals and groups. This is accomplished by attention to the known benefits of the canine/human bond. Studies have shown that being around dogs, playing with them, and just handling them decreases stress, increases physical activity, relieves depression and anxiety, calms and motivates people, and helps normalize difficult situations. Groups of people that have benefited from canine-assisted activities include nursing home patients, hospice patients and their families, special education students, those with autism, children with behavioral problems, prison inmates, teenagers and adults with substance abuse problems, senior citizens, hospital patients, and rehabilitation patients. Canine-assisted activities are particularly helpful for very young children, especially those with autism, who are not verbal because they are too young for talk therapy. It also works well for children that do not trust adults and children that have difficulty focusing and sitting still.
We are currently all volunteers, many from professional backgrounds in canine behavior and training as well as education. We have joined together to design a program that appears to be the first of its kind in the country. Participants engage not only in one-on-one experiences, but also learn about behavior/nutrition and veterinary care. The educational benefits of engaging with therapy dogs include stimulating imagination and curiosity, improving reading and language/verbal skills, following instructions, enhancing socialization and cooperation. Additionally, participants derive comfort by experiencing mutual affection from interacting with, and developing a bond with, a non-judgmental and friendly dog. In turn they experience compassion and empathy, enhance their self-esteem, develop a sense of responsibility and feelings of competence.
Among the specific activities offered at DogAbility are the following:
In addition to the work we do with individuals and groups of participants, DogAbility also trains and certifies dog teams at our center. Our dog training sessions prepare an owner and his/her dog for therapy work as well as American Kennel Club (AKC) Certifications. These dogs then participate in the educational and recreational program provided for our human participants. As we are knowledgeable in many areas of therapy work, our handler teams are exposed to a variety of such sessions. Another advantage of our series of on-site training is that dog handlers are observed and supported during actual sessions which increases their skills and confidence.
PO Box 7437, Hicksville, NY 11802-7437
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