Service Dogs

Narrated from: Special Dogs

The working breeds perform many services for humans such as helping on the farm or performing duties as police dogs, but the service dog is special. They can be essential to a person with disabilities and who are often confined to wheelchair or suffering from a sight or hearing impairment. They are a friend, companion and an indispensible aid throughout the day. Service dogs help people return to living a normal life. The most commonly used breeds are Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers and German Shepherds.

Things we do everyday such as dropping something and picking it up, opening a door, crossing an intersection or any of hundreds of actions we never think twice about doing, are difficult or impossible for those with disabilities. Service dogs are by their person’s side, helping with every task. Seeing-eye dogs, also called guide dogs, are the most well known and guide the visually impaired. Everywhere the person walks, the dog is right there as their eyes to prevent tripping, falling or bumping into things. They also serve the hearing impaired as their ears and alert them to all sounds such as the alarm clock, doorbell ringing, phone ringing or microwave beeping.

Those in wheelchairs benefit from service dogs in more varied roles depending on the owner’s needs. The dogs can be trained to pick things up, open or close doors, carry a bag, switch clothing from washer to dryer, aid in dressing or even move the wheelchair. The owners, as a result, are able to be more independent and live a more normal life.

Other service dogs are trained to be life savers. They are trained to monitor certain medical conditions, alert a person to oncoming medical incidents and bring medication and water. These remarkable animals can even remind people to take medication on time or call 911 from a special phone. Those with an uncontrollable fear of the dark or intruders can have a service dog that inspects the home as often as necessary to reassure the owner. They are trained to enter the home ahead of their owner, turn on lights and search the home.

Those suffering from panic attacks or anxiety, post traumatic stress or other conditions that render them helpless, also benefit from service dogs. They are able to get through a day holding a job and having a social life. Simply putting their head in their owner’s lap, when the dog senses an episode is coming on, can distract a person, redirect their focus and calm them so they can maintain control. These dogs can also be trained to read a hand signal telling them to whine. This gives the impression the dog needs to go out, thus enabling their owner to leave the room and regain control.

Service dogs share a closer bond with their owner than other dogs and owners. They are actually partners in day to day life. The owners have easier and more independent lives while the dog has the continual happiness and delight of providing for their owner. It is a very special bond for both.

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