ECAD, Educated Canines Assisting with Disabilities
February 16, 2011
I have volunteered with ECAD for several rewarding years now. I view the program as a WIN-WIN-WIN. Service dogs are trained by at-risk youth (first WIN -- you should see the kids bond with these dogs, and from their experience learn patience and trust). Then the dogs are paired with persons with physical challenges (second WIN -- whether it is providing independence to an autistic child (and parents!) or much-needed physical and/or emotional support for a wounded veteran, the service dog adds quality of life for a recipient. Third WIN: the volunteer! Being a weekend handler allows me to have a trained, loving dog at my convenience. It is very rewarding, to say nothing of excellent exercise!
Imagine being the kid in the wheelchair, that has always felt like an outsider at school. Now, imagine being that same kid in the wheelchair at school -- but with a dog! The other kids now envy you and crowd around. You are no longer the kid with the disability -- you are the kid who GETS to have a dog. Big difference!
I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...
ECAD goes out of its way to create a sense of community. Volunteers are encouraged to interact with the eventual recipient/pairing of a service dog they helped train. We hear their backgrounds and stories, which makes the experience come alive for each of us.
Ways to make it better...
If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...
ECAD should continue to improve its communication and marketing arms, to keep everyone engaged.
Volunteer & I provided an in-home experience for service dogs in training.
Review from Guidestar