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To live with a wagging tailed assistant - Service and hearing dog ownership from the perspective of Swedish owners

By Martina Lundqvist, Lars-Åke Levin, Jenny Alwin and Ann-Charlotte Nedlund

Abstract

Individuals who have a functional or health impairment, are often in great need of conventional healthcare, social care and support, as well as help from family and friends. The use of dogs may be an important assistive support for this population. Assistance dogs are trained to assist with their owners specific needs. The aim of this study is to explore service and hearing dog ownership from the owner s perspective, by examining the owners expectations before training a dog, and experiences after having a certified dog. This study was designed as a longitudinal intervention study with pre-post design. The participants included in the study trained their own dogs to become service or hearing dogs. A number of open-ended questions were answered by the participants before the training of the dog started, three months after the dog was certified, and 1-3 years after the first follow-up. Data were analysed using thematic content analysis. The participants expectations of what the dog would contribute after being certified was high. Their perceived experiences in many ways reflected their expectations. For example, they perceived that the dog contributed to improved health status, a more active lifestyle, improved ability to feel secure, and that they had become more independent. They also felt that the dog had strengthened their social relationships. Negative experiences were also identified. Not being allowed to bring their dog into public places and negative attitudes from other people were examples of this. This study shows that individuals being supported by an assistance dog experience the dog as an invaluable help in their everyday life. By improving the owners lives in many ways, a certified service or hearing dog is a novel and important assistive support for people with a functional or health impairment.Funding Agencies|Region Ostergotland and Jimmy Dahlstens foundation</p

Topics: assistance dog; assistive technology; health technology assessment; qualitative analysis; thematic content analyses, Gerontology, specialising in Medical and Health Sciences, Gerontologi, medicinsk/hälsovetenskaplig inriktning
Publisher: 'Wiley'
Year: 2020
DOI identifier: 10.1111/hsc.13128
OAI identifier: oai:DiVA.org:liu-168766
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