September 15, 2016

The Noble Service Dog: an Awesome Companion

Baby service dog in training

September is National Service Dog Month.

National Service Dog Month is an annual fundraising and awareness campaign for the noble dogs that enter a career of service to humans. And it is the perfect time to reflect on the roles that service animals play in our lives. Would you like to help? See our links below for some of the amazing organizations that train these dogs.

Perhaps no other animal has been so universally connected to humans as the the dog. Over the evolution of mankind and canines, countless “working” relationships evolved, from ranching to rescue. The Service Dog program is one of the most remarkable examples of this relationship, supporting individuals with a huge variety of needs.  Some examples are:

Guiding Eyes for the Blind. Seeing eye dogs have provided guiding eyes for the blind throughout history. Guiding Eyes for the Blind trains these assistance dogs to lead blind and visually impaired people around obstacles, making it easier to get around and providing a sense of confidence with their surroundings.Service dog

Physical Assistance.  Founded in 1975, Canine Companions for Independence is a non-profit organization that enhances the lives of people with disabilities by providing highly trained assistance dogs and ongoing support to ensure quality partnerships. A physical assistance dog can open doors, pick up dropped items, retrieve items from the fridge, and get help when needed, even picking up the phone when it rings and give it to their person. Simple activities that most of us take for granted can be a major hardship for a person with physical limitations. A service dog helps create greater freedom and independence.

Service dog with his owner in a wheeclchair

   “It’s impossible to overstate how important Service Dogs are in the lives of many people with disabilities.”

Diabetic and Allergen Support Diabetic Alert Dogs of America trains dogs to help prevent the dangerous insulin drops that lead to comas and even death, by notifying a person in the event of a sharp drop in insulin levels. They are trained to prevent a person from attempting to do something while at reduced mental capacity.  Diabetic alert dogs also provide a sense of security for those living on their own who cannot recognize when their sugar is dropping. In addition, some dogs can be trained to alert their companion in the presence of life-threatening allergens.

Sensory Assistance Autism Service Dogs of America provide trained autism dogs can provide tremendous stability for autistic children and developmentally disabled adults, providing them with safety, an outlet for communication and sensory development, and increasing playtime activities.

Service Dog and the child he serves

Emotional Support  Emotional support dogs provide comfort and support in the forms of affection and companionship for anyone suffering from a mental and emotional conditions. An emotional support dog is not required to perform specific tasks like a traditional service dog would. They are often trained by the owner, but certification programs can be used to designate them as official support companions. They are meant solely for emotional stability and unconditional love. They can assist with conditions such as PTSD, anxiety, depression, mood disorder, panic attacks, phobias, as well as other psychological and emotional conditions. Emotional support dogs often live in nursing and group homes, as a full-time companion for its residents.

service dog offers emotional support

What is the difference between types of assistance dogs?  Guide Dogs assist people who are visually or hearing impaired. A Service Dog is the permanent companion of a person with a disability that enables them to live with greater independence.Therapy Dogs are usually the personal pet of their owner and visit individuals in places such as hospitals or nursing homes to provide comfort or enrichment.

 

Responsibility of Having a Service Dog  Unlike typical pets, service dogs, ideally, are your companion at all times. No matter where you go or what you do, your service dog is with you. Having a service dog is a full-time commitment. Training never ends – service dogs and humans alike must be regularly reminded of the ground rules of their relationship.

The Best Friend You’ll Ever Have  Beyond all definitions, legalities and practices, there’s one universal truth about service dogs: they are the most loving, loyal companion you’ll ever have. Yes, they know when they’re working, but they’re just as quick to protect you when someone’s at the door, or snuggle up with you in bed if you allow.

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