We get a lot of questions. One of the questions we get asked most often is: “Dog!”

Okay, so not actually a question, but lots of enthusiasm when we are out in public with our son and his service dog, Heddie. After the initial exclamation, then we get lots of questions about service dogs.


According to the Americans with Disabilities Act  (ADA), a service dog is “a dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for a person with a disability.” Here’s a great article about service dogs in general from the American Kennel Club. 

Aaron was matched with Heddie through Canine Companions. The process included intensive training for our family and includes ongoing care and training. Canine Companions is also looking for volunteer puppy raisers, so if you’re a dog person but you don’t need a service dog, it’s a great way to do some good in the world.

Considering a service dog?

The most important wisdom I have to share from our journey is to do your research, including actually speaking with a representative from the organization (emails don’t count). There are many remarkable service dog organizations. We chose Canine Companions because their organization was well suited for our specific needs. Before we filled out the application, we had a strong sense of what service dogs can and cannot do, the level of commitment that having a service dog would require from our family, and the specifics on if this organization could meet our needs.

Is Heddie the best thing ever? Yeah, pretty much.

For an interview with Canine Companions’ CEO, Paige Mazzoni, check out the book Everything No One Tells You About Parenting a Disabled Child. Her interview is part of the chapter on Inclusion in Your Community, as Heddie has been, and continues to be, a key part of furthering Aaron’s inclusion in our community. Because, “Dog!”

Bonus: service dog photo gallery COMING SOON ...