The Dogs For Life Off-Leash Park in Vero Beach, Florida – at 1230 16th Avenue – is a delightful, four-acre park that happens to be one offering from the organization that is focused primarily on providing assistance and training for persons in need of service dogs for many different reasons.
The organization, also called Dogs for Life, helps train dogs for persons who are hearing impaired or suffer from other health-related problems, including mobility impairments. The list of disabilities is extensive. Specially trained dogs have been placed with persons with spinal cord injuries, head trauma, diabetes, balance issues, anxiety, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder and many more.
They also focus on providing support animals for the elderly and for veterans, many of whom have returned from overseas assignments suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental health-related problems. Dogs for Life is an accredited member of Assistance Dogs International and has a fully equipped training center that is at the heart of their services.
But dogs still need a place to relax, right? For that, the dog park includes a well-kept lawn and some very welcome shade trees to help beat the Florida heat. The fee for using the park is $100 per year, although scholarships are available to those in need. Otherwise, the park is open to all dogs that are “inoculated, neutered, and social,” the organization says.
Dogs also need to go through an orientation process to use the Dogs For Life Off-Leash Dog Park. Orientations are scheduled by appointment. For your average Woof who doesn't particularly need a full-time job, Dogs for Life also basic dog obedience and behavior training, dog temperament evaluations and education in service dog training, as well.
One of the nicer features of the off-leash park is the addition of night lights, which makes the park useful for late strolls or romps, as the case may be. In the Florida heat, many dogs would certainly prefer to do their exercising after the sun goes down. It isn't always easy to beat the heat when you are wearing a fur coat, which is why dogs love to lollygag when temperatures rise much higher than 75 degrees Fahrenheit.
There is water at the park, a few benches, a terrific lawn, and a pathway for pleasant walks with Woof. The standard rules apply: Dogs must be up to date on shots and they must be removed if they are “incompatible with a dog or person already in the park” when the new dog arrives.
While a simple walk with your dog is always therapeutic on some level, to make full use of the Dogs For Life facility might be to engage the organization through one of its feature programs. Dogs For Life sponsors and Indian River County 4-H Club Dog Masters Club. They also offer task training for hearing and mobility service dogs that are already a part of your life.