May 21, 2024


Alaska the 2-year-old Australian Shepherd/Border Collie combine can’t play an instrument, however she nonetheless sits with the College of Wyoming Symphony Orchestra throughout concert events. Her handler, Paulina Gurevich, performs the french horn. As a service canine, Alaska is there so Gurevich may be, too.

Specifically educated to help Gurevich together with her medical circumstances, Alaska additionally patiently sits underneath the french horn participant’s chair throughout loud concert events. Whether or not she likes orchestral music or not, Alaska is aware of she must be there, prepared for motion.

What Alaska Does For Her Handler

Gurevich experiences seizures and suffers from post-traumatic stress dysfunction. Alaska helps her handle her signs and is ready to help in an emergency. Extra importantly, Alaska’s presence brings her safety.

“(Having a service canine) permits me to be extra unbiased,” Gurevich stated. “[I used to] keep house so much and wouldn’t have the ability to handle signs outdoors of the home. Now I’m capable of journey fairly freely.”

When signs are approaching, Alaska alerts Gurevich by pawing or nudging her. Alaska can also be educated in deep strain remedy, the place she makes use of her physique weight to stabilize her handler. 

Past what Alaska can do, the tasks of taking good care of her give Gurevich goal.

“[Alaska has] given me a purpose to be productive everyday. Merely needing to maintain her offers me a purpose to get off the bed within the morning.”

The following process Alaska will study is to find exits so she will lead her handler out of a room on the onset of signs.

Making ready Alaska For Orchestra Performances

With some steering from skilled trainers and the web, Gurevich largely educated her service canine on her personal, together with educating Alaska to remain beneath her chair whereas she performs the horn. They practiced this for just a few weeks earlier than attending a full rehearsal. Extremely, Alaska transitioned to the louder sounds and enormous group simply.

“Typically she surprises me. It’s totally different when you might have one chair and when you might have 100 individuals,” Gurevich stated.

UW Director of Orchestral Actions, Michael Griffith, referred to as Gurevich a “effective musician and asset” and stated Alaska’s presence doesn’t distract from something.

“We wish to deliver the enjoyment of creating music not simply to the viewers, however to performers as effectively,” Griffith stated. “We wish good musicians, finish of sentence.”


Going through Discrimination

Although it’s clear that Alaska’s presence is each important and non-distracting, Gurevich commonly faces discrimination when making an attempt to go locations together with her service canine.

The Individuals with Disabilities Act requires that anywhere the place the general public is allowed should additionally permit service canines. The Honest Housing Act requires landlords to supply cheap lodging to permit service canines even on properties the place pets are in any other case not allowed.

Nonetheless, Gurevich stated she’s been scolded by business owners for bringing Alaska inside and been denied housing for needing her canine to come back too.

“Service canines are extra than simply companions. They’re a device for independence for many individuals, and they need to be handled with respect.”


Hopefully, this story may also help educate others on the significance of service canines, the companions which might be extra than simply pets.

H/T: Laramie Boomerang
Featured Picture: Abby Vander Graaff/Boomerang


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