6 Interesting Facts About Adopting A Retired Service Dog

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Interesting Facts About Adopting a Retired Service Dog
Dublin is still working hard as a guide dog in Arizona and not likely to retire anytime soon.

“The more you know, the more you know you don’t know.” –Aristotle

I thought I knew a lot about adopting career change and retired service dogs.  That was until I started researching my ultimate list of service dog schools with adoption programs.

Before I started researching I had an understanding of about a half dozen schools and their adoption programs.  Fast forward and after researching over 100 organizations I found a few interesting facts.

Most of the adoption pages on the service and guide dog websites are very similar including most likely reasons for career change: health and temperament issues, breeds: Labs and Goldens, length of waiting lists: a year or longer, etc.

6 Facts About Adopting A Retired Service Dog

After researching a hundred+ sites below is a list of some of the outliers we came across amongst service dog organization adoption programs:

  1. $4,000 was the highest price for a retired service dog.  On the other hand several organizations did not require a payment for a retired service dog, but donations were encouraged/appreciated.
  2. The longest waiting list for a career change dog was 6 years.  Most programs said to be prepared to wait a year or longer for one of their dogs. –UPDATE: site now says they are not accepting applications dues to high demand
  3. At the Seeing Eye you can reduce your wait time by giving a gift of $25,000 or more! – I’d guess this is probably true for most of the organizations on our ultimate list.  I wish I had that kind of cash to share with my favorite guide and service dog organizations.
  4. The Service Dog Project uses exclusively Great Danes in their program.  Most organizations use Labrador Retriever or Golden Retrievers in their program, but the Service Dog Project uses the giant breed, Great Danes.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t find information on an adoption program for their group.
  5. Pilot Dogs Inc. regularly uses seven breeds in their guide dog program: Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, German Shepherd, Boxer, Doberman Pinscher, Standard Poodle, and Vizsla.  We regularly see Labs and Goldens on these  lists, but Dobermans, Boxers, and Vizsla’s are not as common to see as guide dogs.
  6. Can Do Canines assistance dogs never fail. However, sometimes they do need a “career change.” – I love this quote!  Most programs don’t use the words “failed” or “rejected” and a common term used instead is “career change.”

Those are the facts!  What do you think?  I must say I find the above list very interesting.

Are you affiliated with a service or guide dog school?  Do you have any interesting facts you’d like to add to this list?  I’d love to hear about your experiences in the comment section below.

Facts about adopting a retired service dog
Interesting facts about adopting a retired service dog

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20 Comments

    1. Wow! A retired police K9 German Shepherd. I bet it’s not easy to get on the wait list for a retired police K9. I wouldn’t mind reading an article about how one would go about adopting a retired K9 if anyone has knowledge on the subject.

  1. This is so interesting. I assumed most of them would stay with their families too. I’ve read a lot about retired military dogs and how their partners can’t always adopt them, but I never thought about retired service dogs.

    1. I remember when I first started raising puppies for the guide dog program one of my fellow puppy raisers adopted a retired guide dog she had raised as a puppy. The dog was nearly 10 years old when she brought him back home. One of the puppies I raised, Dublin will probably retire in the next few years. He will likely stay with his family because they will be able to easily take care of him during his retirement years even with when they bring in a new guide dog.

    1. We adopted Stetson after he was dropped from the guide dog school. Two of our other puppies: Derby and Apache were dropped from the guide dog school. Derby went into the adoption program and was career changed to a family pet. Apache moved on to a service dog school and was career changed to a PTSD service dog.

  2. Very interesting facts indeed. I think that’s such a fantastic idea adopting a retired service dog, I would never have thought of that idea.

    The Great Dane exclusive program sounds pretty cool, but then again I’m a sucker for a Dane.

    Thanks so much for sharing with us.

    1. Yeah, it’s neat that they use Great Danes. I would love to raiser one of their puppies. Too bad they’re located so far away from me. 🙁

  3. Wow…$4000, but I guess you’re getting a fully trained (hopefully well-behaved) dog. I’m surprised more organizations don’t charge something for their dogs.

    Great insight!

    1. I agree, they should charge and charge a premium at that. Especially considering most have long waiting lists for these dogs. These dogs have been through early socialization, taught basic obedience, and good house manners. They are great dogs!

  4. When the dogs are retired, do most of them stay with their families? I would assume so, but I guess sometimes maybe that’s not always possible for all sorts of reasons.

    1. Most retired service dogs do stay with their families, but often times the family can’t take care of multiple dogs. Also, service dogs go just about everywhere with their handlers so once a dog is retired he/she now has to stay home all the time. One other thing I forgot to mention is most programs will give the original puppy raisers first option to adopt a retired (or dropped) service dog.

  5. Working with Harley at the Children’s hospital, I’m learning more and more about service dogs because of the increased patients there with newly diagnosed seizures. I never thought about what happens after the dog retires. I guess I always assumed they remained with the family forever. This whole blogging world is incredible, we can learn so much from one another. Thank you for this post.

    1. Many service dogs stay with their families forever, but sometimes the family can’t take care of two dogs after they retire the first then bring in a second service dog. From what I understand the majority of the dogs entering the adoption program are younger dogs (approximately 8 weeks – 2 years old) that didn’t make it all the way through the service dog program.

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