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Redefining 'Service Dog': An Owner-Trainer's Perspective

Service dogs have become an integral part of our society. Consequently, there is a need for studies that explore how Canada should proceed with the development and implementation of new policies that will ensure the proper use and integration of service dogs. Before this happens, the terminology used must be clarified. Society continues to move toward an expanded definition, creating public access challenges for persons with disabilities.

This study examined what handlers, particularly ‘owner-trainers,’ feel constitutes a ‘service dog.’ Investigations involving persons with disabilities typically takes the form of disabled individuals being studied and not directly involved. I sought to involve persons with disabilities, attempting to avoid censorship or silence. Using social media, lived experiences were able to be captured without participants being influenced by other societal forces. Using autoethnography, I shared my own experiences, as a raiser, trainer and handler, and provided a glimpse into other handlers’ lives

Author: Brooke Sillaby