So… you’ve seen a dog in a store and wondered why in the world THIS dog can go shopping, but yours can’t. You were eating a great meal in a restaurant when the table next to you leaves and suddenly- is that a dog?
Service dogs are specially-trained to assist people with various physical, mental, and medical disabilities with tasks, so that they can participate in the world more independently. They are literally lifesavers in fur coats. Consider the following examples:
- A person who is blind listens carefully for the crossing signal and cars and is ready to cross the street, when suddenly a car whips around the corner without stopping or looking. The guide dog, hearing and seeing the danger, willfully disobeys the command to move forward, saving the person from being hit.
- A person with diabetes is driving along the road when all of a sudden, the service dog jumps up and gives the signal for a change in blood glucose, and a second signal that the person’s glucose is dropping. The driver pulls over, checks his/her blood sugar with a meter, and drinks a juice box. The service dog saved this driver (and others) from an accident because of rapidly dropping glucose.
- A young child with seizures can’t play outside without supervision and hovering adults because a seizure can strike at any moment and cause the child to get hurt by falling and hitting his/her head. The family gets a service dog that can sense when a seizure is coming on and move the child to a safe place, protecting and stimulating the child so that he/she continues to breathe until the seizure passes.
These are only a few examples. Service dogs save lives everyday. They are not pets, but have a very close bond with their partners, whose lives depend on them.
Those that are trained with positive methods, which should not include choke, slip, or prong collars, which tighten around the dog’s neck when jerked in “correction”, are happy to serve their partners because they enjoy having a job to do that occupies their mental and physical energies all day long. The perks also include yummy treats, fun play sessions and breaks, and visits to all kinds of interesting places.