7 Adorable Reasons Why New Jersey Loves Service Dogs

These local organizations like to lend a helping paw (or four).

Besides playing catch and getting belly rubs, our four-legged friends can help with everything from coping with PTSD to putting dishes in the sink.

April 18 is Seeing Eye Puppy Day at Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson, where guests can see these talented pups in action and learn about the historic Morristown-based group. In honor of these smart and adorable companions, we’ve rounded up a list of impressive New Jersey non-profit organizations that work with service dogs.

1. The Seeing Eye

Credit: The Seeing Eye, Inc

Credit: The Seeing Eye, Inc

Established in 1929, The Seeing Eye is the oldest existing guide dog school in the world. While it was founded in Nashville, it moved to Whippany in 1931 and eventually Morris Township in 1965.  Morristown is the outdoor classroom for guide dogs in training, who learn to navigate crosswalks, street traffic and sidewalk obstacles through the downtown region. As of April 2015, The Seeing Eye reached 16,500 successful human-canine partnerships. Interested in raising in puppy for The Seeing Eye? Click here for contacts in your county.

2. Merlin’s Kids

Cali alerts her trainer, Casey Butler, if a child is showing signs of anxiety. Credit: Joe Polillio

Based in Midland Park, Merlin’s Kids trains service dogs to work with special-needs children. The non-profit helped place Cali, a cortisol-detecting Rhodesian ridgeback, at Calais Elementary School in Whippany. Each morning, Cali sniffs the students entering the school for high levels of the stress hormone. If a child seems on the verge of an anxiety attack or emotional outburst, Cali alerts her handler and the child is pulled aside to pet Cali and relax.

 3. The K9 Sgt. Denny Project

Credit: runwithdennis.org

Credit: runwithdennis.org

When Monmouth County dog handler Michael Brozowski was deployed to Afghanistan with Sergeant Denny, a two-year-old German Shepherd trained to sniff explosives, the K9 Sgt. Denny Project was born. Part of the Holmdel-based Lt. Dennis W. Zilinski Memorial Fund, the Project supports overseas military working dogs with snail mail care packages full of toys and treats. The Project also helps provide service dogs for wounded warriors.

The next K9 Sgt. Denny Dog Walk is June 13, rain or shine, at the Army National Guard Training Center in Sea Girt.

4. Semper Fido, Inc.

Credit: Flickr Creative Commons

Credit: Flickr Creative Commons

The Marlton non-profit connects veterans with PTSD with rescued shelter dogs, creating a symbiotic relationship where the two comfort and help each other negotiate stress and anxiety. As the website explains:

Semper Fido has found that a great majority of the warriors with PTSD choose a shelter dog because they want ‘to save something’. They may choose a dog with an injury because they have an injury too. They are both healing. They fit together. They are a team.

Sounds like a match made in heaven!

5. Guardian Angels K9 Fund

Aron with the Deptford Police Deparment

Aron with the Deptford Police Deparment

Part of the Angels for Animals Foundation in Woolwich Township, the Guardian Angels K9 Fund helps pay furry crime fighters’ medical bills, including expensive surgeries for gun shot wounds and other injuries from the field. The non-profit was created after Judge, a 9-year-old German Shepherd who worked with the West Deptford Police Department, was diagnosed with Cushing’s disease. Judge’s medical bills exceeded $12,000, and the town only funded $300 to help his handler pay the expenses.

Guardian Angels K9 Fund is currently raising money for a $6,000 urgent life-saving splenectomy for Aron, a retired K9 officer from the Deptford Police Department. Learn how to donate here.

6. Dogs in Service

Credit: Flickr Creative Commons

Credit: Flickr Creative Commons

The Lebanon non-profit trains and pairs service and therapy dogs with a wide range of owners, from the elderly, to the disabled, hearing-impaired and chronically-ill. After 9/11, Dogs in Service was asked by New Jersey Department of Health and Human Services to pair therapy dogs with relief workers, victim’s families and first responders.

The non-profit is part of Barking Hills Country Club, a dog-friendly activity center in Lebanon that believes “every human must be accompanied by a dog.”

7. Canine Hearing Companions

Credit: Flickr Creative Commons

Credit: Flickr Creative Commons

Based in Vineland, Canine Hearing Companions was founded in 1992. The non-profit trains hearing dogs, who notify deaf owners of ringing doorbells, phone calls and smoke alarms; and medical alert service dogs, who smell and detect signals predicting oncoming seizures, diabetic or angina attacks. Instead of large breeds like Labs, Golden Retrievers or German Shepherds, Canine Hearing Companions prefers to work with small, hyper-attentive breeds, like Corgi and Pomeranian mixes, or Corgeranians.

The organization also trains dogs at Fairton Federal Prison, where inmates help train the service dogs.

Did we miss your favorite New Jersey service dog organization? Let us know in the comments!

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