I have to confess that until recently the existence of assistance dogs for those suffering CRPS or other chronic pain conditions has passed under my radar. In my defence the idea doesn’t yet seem to be widely known but, on the face of it, if dogs can be trained to assist those with other types of limitation, then why not chronic pain?
One CRPS sufferer, Sally, has set up a fantastic website and a Facebook page to chart her own journey with her assistance dog, Robbie, and to spread awareness of the benefits of CRPS assistance dogs. I would urge you to watch the fantastic video clips of Robbie at work on her Facebook page.
What is the process for acquiring an assistance dog?
Unlike more common types of assistance dogs such as those for the blind or deaf, there is no dedicated charity or organisation out there solely training assistance dogs for those suffering chronic pain. Of course, you could train the dog yourself but in reality most people are unlikely to have the necessary skills and patience to do that without at least some specialist (and probably paid for) assistance.
However, in the UK there is a charity, Canine Partners, whose stated aim is to “transform the lives of people with physical disabilities by partnering them with assistance dogs.” It seems that a dog’s training is more tailor made to suit the person’s specific requirements, as opposed to say a guide dog whose training is more general in nature. They are part of the coalition, Assistance Dogs UK, who provide the kite-mark of excellence in assistance dog training.
Unfortunately, as a result of high demand, Canine Partners are currently not accepting new applications but suggest that people who may be interested check their website periodically for updates.