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Frequently Asked Questions for All Service Dogs

How much to I owe and how do I pay for it?

Wilderwood is a nonprofit organization.  As such our clients participate in fundraising efforts for our organization.  Our clients have a fundraising goal of $12,500.  Wilderwood staff is very active and supportive in this funding process.  During this time period Wilderwood trainers are actively training your special service dog.  The entire process takes an average of two years.

Hundreds of funding options are available, here are some ideas:

  1. Receive Wilderwood comprehensive fundraising packet and donor resource list.
  2. Work with Wilderwood staff on Identifying a civic or personal group within your community to assist with your service dog project
  3. Organize a fundraiser with a goal of $3500.  Wilderwood is able to provide some neat items for silent auctions
  4. Work with Wilderwood in identifying civic or professional groups interested in event advertising or supplying community matching grants
  5. Work with Wilderwood and known corporations for matching gift programs
  6. Use the web for social media and giving sites
  7. Wilderwood also provides assistance with flex-spending accounts, Medicaid proposals and tax deductions.

Wilderwood breaks the process into easily manageable tasks and goals.  Occasionally we even have financial and work scholarships available.

Service Dogs at Rest

“When we made the decision, we just did it.  We would have paid double if we needed to.  It wasn’t that hard.  We did a raffle and a weekend fundraising event at an ATV Park.  It was a blast!” ~  Chris

“The community just came together for us.  I was so touched by their support.  They gave above and beyond.” ~   Wendy

“We did it!  Little by little, one small fundraiser after another.  Once the ball gets rolling it’s kinda fun." ~  Laura


How do I get an application?

  1. The first step to applying is to fill out our short on-line form and submit. For a complete version of our application and contract, pleae download our child or adult forms. Adobe pdf files
  2. Once the on-line application is reviewed by Wilderwood, you will receive a follow-up phone call for an interview.
  3. Once the interview is complete, you will fill out the Wilderwood Service Dog contract and mail this to us.
  4. Finally, once your application is accepted, Wilderwood will begin training your specialized service dog and you will begin working through ongoing materials and activities provided by Wilderwood.

How long will it take to get my service dog?

Wilderwood trains its dogs from puppy hood.  We train each dog specific to each client.  For this reason the waiting list is an average of two years.  Most OTHER organizations' waiting lists are 2-5 years!

What are the criteria for receiving one of your service dogs?
The individual must be under the care of a licensed MD or Psychiatrist and receiving current treatment for a recognized neurological diagnosis.

Some examples are (but not limited to):

  • All Spectrum Disorders (Autism, Aspergers, etc.)
  • Pervasive Developmental Disorder
  • Episodic Disorders
  • Psychological or Psychiatric Diagnosis
  • Brain Injury
  • Dementia
  • Neurological Disorders (Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, Huntington's, etc.)
  • Stroke

How do I pick up my dog once one has been trained?

Wilderwood offers two different types of training camps (graduations) 
    1. The family will travel to TN for seven days and attend a training camp or
    2. We offer “offsite gradations” where a trainer will come with the service dog to your home and train the family there. 

Is there a fee associated with graduation?

Each family will be responsible for their travel expenses for the 7 days you will be in Tennessee for graduation.  Similarly the family will be required to cover the trainer’s expenses for an off-site graduation.  Typically these two options cost within a few hundred dollars of each other.

Where are you located? 

Wilderwood is located in Maryville, Tennessee.

We are:

  • 3 hours east of Nashville, TN
  • 5 hours west of Charlotte, NC
  • 3 hours south of Lexington, KY
  • 3 hours northwest of Atlanta, GA

Do you train private pets?

Wilderwood will evaluate personal pets for service work.  If all criteria are met, the dog would enter our board and train program.  This program is handled on a fee/month basis.

What type of dogs do you use?

Wilderwood uses a combination of rescue dogs, owner surrendered dogs and AKC registered dogs. 70% of our dogs are rescue or owners surrenders. 30% of our dogs are AKC registered. We use a variety of breeds and size of dogs to meet the individual needs of our clients.

What are the age limits of an applicant?

Provided there are caregivers involved Wilderwood will place a service dog from ages four and up.

If I live in an apartment can I still have a service dog?

Provided there is adequate room and the financial means to continue the care of the dog, our dogs can be placed in almost any living situation.  Fenced backyards are a HUGE plus and convenience, but are not required.

Where can your service dogs go?

Our dogs are certified working service animals.  They are protected under the ADA and are allowed in any and all public venues, including schools.