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What You Need to Know

Before you or your loved one applies for a service dog, you need to know:


  • Service dogs are specifically trained to help a person living with a disability to be more independent.  It is expected the person applying for a service dog intends to use the dog as it was trained and have the dog with them 24/7.

  • Are you prepared for that commitment?  Service dogs can expect to work for up to seven or eight years and then retire for several more years. All total a person can expect a service dog to be with them 10 years or longer.

  • Are you able to control and direct the service dog in the skills you need it to do?  Do you have the capacity to learn the skills needed to work with the service dog?

  • Understand a service dog is not a pet.  It is a highly skilled dog that has been trained to perform tasks to help mitigate (assist with) the persons' disability. It is medical equipment.

  • Not everyone will think about the service dog the way you or your loved one will.  Not everyone will welcome the service dog into their private home nor do they have to.  Private homes are not covered under the Americans With Disability Act.  Think about this impact on you and your family before getting the service dog. 

  • Service dogs are not widgets on a shelf; the dog takes years to train and there are many factors that determine whether the dog will complete its' training or not. A waitlist for a service dog is not uncommon.  

  • Can you afford the service dog once it is matched with you?  Even though you will not pay a fee for the service dog from Four Paws and a Wake Up, the care of the service dog is your expense once it is partnered with you.   Costs for premium dog food, treats, veterinary care, emergency expenses if the dog gets sick and monthly, heartworm and flea/tick preventatives are all necessary.

  • Are you prepared to deal with the public regarding your service dog?  Often people assume they can pet your working dog and will distract it. 

  • A service dog is a FULL-TIME commitment and not just when you feel like having the service dog around.  The dogs are highly skilled and enjoy working.  They must work to keep up their skills. It is not a pet and should not be treated like one. 

Other Information

A person's own dog is not trained by the Four Paws and a Wake Up team nor do we certify a dog trained by an individual, trainer or another organization. 


Four Paws and a Wake Up cannot guarantee the availability of hypo-allergenic service dogs. The organization works with shelter dogs and most are mix-breeds that shed.

Four Paws and a Wake Up primarily serves Veterans with service-connected disabilities. At times we can serve a non-Veterans with a service dog but the wait time may be lengthy. 

Four Paws and a Wake UP does not provide service dogs for the following disabilities:

  • Visually or hearing impaired

  • Non-verbal individuals

  • Seizure Disorders

  • Bi-polar, multiple personalities or schizophrenia

  • Autism

  • Alert Disorders (seizure, diabetes, narcolepsy, low blood pressure, etc.) 

  • Emotional Support

  • Temporary disabilities

  • Alzheimer's or Dementia

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