In Xenia, Ohio sits 4 Paws for Ability, a service dog training facility founded by Karen Shirk in 1998. Shirk started the non-profit after personally struggling for several years with many different organizations that refused to place a dog with Shirk.
Eventually, Shirk bought a puppy and trained him herself. Ben became her service dog and he saved her life, she said.
It was around that time when Shirk realized that others may be faced with a similar challenge.
4 Paws has no waiting list and turns no one away. They train and place dogs with children – regardless of the disability. In fact, it was one of the first organizations to train dogs for children with Autism.
The trainers at 4 Paws identify the dogs’ individual talents during basic training. Then, training gets personalized based on the dog’s strengths and talents so that they can specialize as hearing ear dogs, autism assistants, mobility assistants or seizure assistants.
Karen Shirk shared photos in this photo gallery of Coda, a service dog in action with 4 Paws trainer Jessa Brown as they work on different skills.
Do you have a helpful dog?
You can also post photos of your service dogs therapy dogs or any dog that helps you to the gallery.