I consider myself fortunate to be client of NEADS. I have seen many "Service Dogs" that make me question whether they even benefit and increase the quality of life for the disabled client. I have also heard plenty of "Dog Whisperer" wannabe's argue over what method is better. Ate the end of the day, I am CONSTANTLY complimented about how well behaved my dog is and most never even know he's with me until I exit a building or restaurant.
The process used by NEADS for training and matching their dogs to clients is on point. It saves clients time and the organization money. As far as quality of the dogs or behavior once they are in the care of the clients is concerned, I think people easily forget that the clients are responsible to continue enforcing the lessons taught to the dogs by the process. Prime example would be the recertification process. When I took my dog for re-certification, he was able to complete all tasks perfectly and all in less than 15 min; while I heard that some other clients took a bit longer due to their failure to maintain the training as they were taught during the TWO WEEK on on site training when they first received their service dog. Like parenting and organizational leadership, the ongoing performance of the service animal is a direct reflection of the behavior which the person in charge allows. Dogs are still like children, you give them an inch and they will try to take the mile. Unlike children, however, minor corrections and reminders will keep them at the high standard and level of training which (to me is) seems to be the standard which NEADS provide to clients.
When compared to some of the other ADI certified organizations which provide similar services, NEADS will always be the standard to which others have to strive to achieve.
NEADS looks at each perspective client, family member, from not only the disease or disorder, but more importantly from the specific disabilities and difficulties, including lifestyle and family surroundings. For someone such as me this is a Godsend. From the moment I was interviewed before receiving my first NEADS dog, I felt that warmth and validation. The training consists of both on site, and field trip experiences. You are able to interact, perform, and live with your new canine partner. The client is also given the opportunity to visit the prison where the pups receive their initial training and meet your partner’s inmate trainer. It’s amazing to see the dog and inmate….the love between them is palpable. The pride in the inmate’s eyes is an emotion that I’ve yet to see anywhere else. I have yet to find anything that my assistance dog partner, my friend, my confidant can’t handle. We are indeed one, we work with each other, as each other, and for this reason, I am indeed blessed. Thank you NEADS.
Review from Guidestar
I am a Professional Working Dog Trainer with over 20 years of experience in the working dog and assistance dog field. I have seen the quality of the dogs from NEADS go downhill severely since early 2002 and it is getting progressively worse. While NEADS in fact has a very friendly staff, the loss of their old training director in the early 2000’s impacted the quality of the final product produced by NEADS to a very concerning level. While the majority of people that puppy raise and train these special dogs have their hearts in the right place, they lack the professional experience needed to reproduce the quality of trained dogs they once offered in the late 90’s. Although NEADS is an ADI accredited School, the complaints of performance issues now fall on deaf ears by ADI when it comes to a good number of ADI accredited organizations. Many of the recipients that have issues with a NEADS dog live in fear of the organization repossessing their assistance dog and place them on another multiple year waiting list because of issues the organization is unwilling or unable to repair with their current assistance dog.
This organization has been doing this for 34 years now and I have no met a better group of people that truly care and willing to go the next step to make your experience with them and the handling training with your new dog a warm and welcoming one. They have Kathy Forman that reviews your application and interviews you for the possibility person with an uncanny nack for matching the personalities of the client and the dog. I believe so much in this organizations mission that I started a chapter of NEADS in my home state of IL. Advocating for disabled Americans and their Service Dog. Plus raising money for the services provided to clients of NEADS. The program they put every dog through touches peoples lives through out the two years it take to get a mature Internationally qualified service dog. From the prison system and inmates that help rehabilitate during the daily training sessions to the puppy parents that volunteer to take a dog out for the weekend and get them interactions in the public. Then it is passed forward with each client that is matched with a dog.