Apply for an Assistance Dog
Applying for an assistance dog is a big decision, and we appreciate that you’ve decided to apply for a NEADS dog. We hope to make this process as easy as possible for you, so below we’ve detailed what you can expect as you apply.
1. Fill out our online application (or mail us a printout)
To access the application, please click on this link. Select the type of assistance dog for which you are applying.
The application has a series of questions that tell us more about your disability, your living situation, your lifestyle, and your assistance dog needs. Some of these questions are simple (contact information) and some of them are personal (physical health questions). Please be assured that all of your information will be kept strictly confidential and is used solely to evaluate whether a NEADS assistance dog is right for you.
Fill out the application and click submit (or mail it).
2. Interview with our staff
Once your application is reviewed, our appointment secretary will contact you to set up a personal interview here at our Princeton, MA office. We will email (or mail) you a medical form for your doctor to complete, prior to your interview. (If travel to Princeton for this interview is not possible, the appointment secretary will discuss alternative arrangements with you. However, please note that all clients are required to attend 10-14 days of on-campus training, at the client’s expense, prior to receiving a dog. We can not make exceptions.)
After your interview, we will let you know if we can train a dog to help you. We will also let you know the approximate wait time for your dog. Wait times vary based on a variety of factors, including your specific individual needs and dog availability. We survey our available dogs on an ongoing basis to find the right one for you. The matching process between an assistance dog and a client is highly specialized and is one of the most important factors in creating a lasting partnership. We consider your physical needs, personality and lifestyle to pick the right dog for you. We will custom-train the dog to match your specific needs. Therefore, dogs cannot be offered on a first-come first-served basis. Instead, dogs and clients are matched by an experienced team of trainers based on compatibility. We are extremely proud of our ability to make lasting, successful matches, and consider this matchmaking process to be one of the most outstanding, unique qualities of our program.
3. Train on our campus
When we have a dog in training that is a good partner for you, the dog’s instructor will notify you of the match and will contact you to schedule a time for you to stay at our Princeton training campus. When you arrive on campus, you will have 10-14 days of on-site training with your new assistance dog. Our campus is located on 18 acres of beautiful New England protected land. We will provide you with a comfortable, fully accessible bedroom in our converted New England farmhouse with a communal kitchen, living room and dining room. (Travel and food expenses are not included.) Our campus is peaceful and serene and your time here will be busy and educational. Be prepared to focus all your energy on creating a lasting and productive relationship with your assistance dog. Please note: NEADS does not offer off-site training to clients. You MUST complete this two-week on-campus training program in order to receive your assistance dog.
4. Graduation ceremony
Twice each year, NEADS performs a graduation ceremony for our client/assistance dog teams. We strongly encourage you, your friends and your relatives to attend the happy occasion. These have become signature events for our program, an acknowledgement of the hard work of clients, family, friends, trainers, staff, puppy raisers, fundraisers, donors and others. These graduation ceremonies are warm, emotional, supportive and celebratory, and are open to the public.
Please note: NEADS does not presently train balance dogs, seizure alert dogs, guide dogs for the blind, diabetes alert dogs, or emotional support dogs. For more information on organizations that train these types of dogs, please visit our other service animals section on this website.
Applicants ages 15 and under must be trained with a “facilitator” (parent or guardian) who becomes a part of the assistance dog team. This facilitator must accompany the dog and child whenever they are in public.