CDK Offers Direction

It is important for people to understand why CDK exists as an independent organization, rather than part of a training organization.

As an independent organization, CDK has credibility that is important when helping a family to determine if an service dog is right for their child and, if so, which training organization to apply to. CDK is able to talk about all the options a family has: the best age to apply for a dog, what things a dog could do to increase the child’s independence, and how this new expanded independence would work within the family unit.

It is important that CDK is not a mouthpiece for one training organization. It is important that CDK is able to make recommendations that are truly independent of training programs because parents need all the facts. They need to understand all the pros and cons offered by different training organizations so they can select the best one for their child. In this way, CDK can act in the best interest of the child and not the best interest of the training organization.

A good comparison is that CDK is like a guidance counselor helping students to evaluate many schools rather than a recruiter pulling students to one school. In addition CDK is able to influence the training organizations to recognize children as viable candidates for service dogs.

CDK also provides free educational programs to schools and students who would not otherwise be able to learn about service dogs and their role in public places. These programs aim to create a foundation for individuals using service dogs to extend their independence fully in malls, restaurants, and other public spaces. CDK works diligently to educate the public and thereby tear down any barriers that may exist for individuals with service dogs.

Some examples of families who have received this independent advice are as follows:

  • A child in Washington State who applied to a training organization, but was about to be rejected by the training organization because the situation was not clear “on paper.” CDK stepped in and worked with the mother and therapist to film the child for a better understanding of the child’s needs. This helped the mother understand the specific tasks a dog could do to help her daughter. The mother also learned when it would be best to continue with the application to show her daughter as a good match for a service dog. Without the aid of CDK, this child would not be planning on an interview after her next surgery.
  • A mother in Ohio was saved from having to fundraise twice because she had not read all the rules at one training organization; CDK helped her to be aware of all the things parents should know before selecting which organization is best for their child.
  • The parents of a 3 year-old with a seizure disorder were helped to understand that the rejection letters they had received from several training organizations were because they were applying to organizations that did not work with young children or seizures. Once CDK was able to talk with the parents in detail, they were able to select a training organization that will suit their child well once she is older.
  • A mother in Worcester had been rejected by a training organization because she had filled out the application asking for things that a dog could not do for a young child. CDK called the training organization, learned more about the application, and worked with the mother to determine the best work a dog can do to help her son. She has now completed a new application with the training organization and we are expecting her and her son to interview and be matched successfully.

It is the hope of CDK that examples like these convey the valuable role this organization plays in the community, and why it is critical that CDK remains a strong, growing, and independent organization.