A special breed of service dogs.
Parkinson’s disease is a degenerative disorder of the center nervous system. It often
impairs the sufferer’s motor skills and speech, as well as other functions.
Parkinson’s disease or PD belongs to a group of conditions called movement disorders.
Movement disorders are characterized by muscle rigidity, tremors, a slowing of physical
movement (bradykinesia) and, in extreme cases, a loss of physical movement (akinesia).
One type of akinesia is gait freezing. This is an inability to move your feet, especially
seen while walking in tight or crowded spaces. This is a common problem for most persons
suffering with PD.
For individuals that suffer with gait freezing there is a special service dog trained just for
Walker dogs assist their owners in several ways. These living canes help with balance
and gait while walking. If gait freezing occurs, they are taught to touch their owner’s feet with
their paws. The dog will continue this light touch until their owner starts to walk again. Also if
their owner should fall they are trained to act as a brace to help them regain a standing position.
Because of the nature of their duties, a larger breed dog is usually needed. Great
Danes are widely popular. Unfortunately, because of their great size they have a shorter life span
than other large breed dogs. This is the only drawback to using these wonderful creatures.
As with all other service dogs, walker dogs, are allowed were other dogs are not. Such as
public transportation, restaurants, hotels, grocery stores and other public places. While working
the walker dog must wear a special vest with Service Dog written on it.
In the United States, the Americans with Disabilities Act is a law guaranteeing the right
of disabled persons to have their service dogs with them at all time. If access is denied the
federal and some state laws have heavy penalties that may be brought against any business
Walker dogs may be a little known branch of the service dog family but for Parkinson’s
disease suffers they are a Godsend miracle.
Published in: Pets