BASK is Balance and Service K9s, Inc. We are a very small 501c3 corporation in the state of Massachusetts, established in late 2013. Our mission is to enhance mobility and independence through canine partnerships. We do this through the raising and extensive training of service dogs for balance assist and service dogs who assist in combating the debilitating effects of PTSD.
BASK is wholly run by volunteers, from the board of directors to the puppy raisers, no one here gets a paycheck. We do not charge our clients or ask them to “fund raise” in payment for our dogs. We do the fund raising through fun events, gratefully accept donations, and put our own money into making BASK what it is. We do not receive state or government funding of any kind.
Our dogs are matched exclusively with people who need them in the Medway, MA area. We do this because the initial training is long, slow and continuous, and sometimes a transition to having the dog full time will take many weeks. We do this a little differently than other programs because of the client base we serve. It can be overwhelming to go from never having had a dog to taking a dog out in pubic (and everywhere else) with you. Clients often have to deal with access challenges, housing challenges, and adjust to sharing their space with and taking care of their new partner. We have observed that it takes a working team about 1 year of living and working together to become seamless with each other. Our psychiatric and training staff are here from beginning to end and are dedicated to supporting the teams for the lifetime of the working relationship.
Our PTSD clients have a diagnosis of “disabled due to post traumatic stress” from a certified mental health professional, either VA or other. All dogs are individually trained to meet our client’s needs, so during your in person interview we will ask about behaviors that you may have noticed that a dog may help with. Training for PTSD service dogs may include some or all of the following skills: interrupting repetitive or harmful behaviors, providing deep pressure, medication reminders, retrieving objects if the client is unable to do so, blocking, or preventing people from crowding the client in public places. Our dogs are never trained to protect the client or work independently of the client, such as doing “perimeter checks”. Our dogs are service dogs not emotional support animals, and as such will be trained in a command that will actually mitigate a client’s PTSD symptoms. Currently we are training standard poodles for PTSD assist. We love the non-shedding coat and find them to be the perfect combination of work and play.
Our balance assist dog clients are able to walk without adaptive devices, and have a stable diagnosis. They may need a dog to help them from sit to stand and vice versa, need help with stairs, to keep them from falling, and to help them up should they have a fall. We have chosen Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs for this work and love the breed for their sense of humor and sweet disposition. Our dogs are not to be used in place of a cane or a crutch, and no weight is placed upon the dog by the client.