September is National Service Dog Month! Our canine companions help us in many ways, but one of the most important and outstanding duties they fulfill is being a service dog. There are thousands of wonderful pups out there, helping their humans live independently. These amazing pups definitely deserve some recognition! A local vet discusses service dogs in this article from Arapahoe Animal Hospital, your Boulder, CO animal clinic.
Service dogs, at least as we know them today, began to appear around the 1920’s. The Seeing Eye dog was the earliest position Fido filled. Back then, the vast majority of service dogs were German Shepherds. Nowadays, service dogs now encompass many different breeds and roles. It may surprise you to find that many Poodles are employed in this line of doggy work. Of course, size is important, especially for specific types of jobs. A smaller pooch may not be much help in pulling a wheelchair, but could be a great hearing dog. That said, Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers and German Shepherds are the breeds most often used as service dogs.
What exactly is a service dog? The Americans With Disabilities Act defines the service dog as “a dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for a person with a disability.” Those terms form a pretty wide umbrella these days. A Seizure service dog may be trained to detect oncoming seizures, while a Diabetic service dog may signal their owner about dangerous changes in blood sugar levels. Mobility assistance dogs will help their owners get around more easily. Psychiatric service dogs may help people with PTSD, depression, and/or anxiety. These pups may do things like turning on lights on, or reminding people to take medication. (It’s worth mentioning that emotional support dogs are not classified as service dogs, and do not have the same training requirements or protections.)
What should you do if you see a service dog? Absolutely nothing! Keep in mind that Fido is on the job. If you do want to pet him, be sure to ask the owner first.
Helping Service Dogs
If you want to help support service dogs, consider donating money or supplies to an organization that helps train and place them. There are many wonderful ones out there!
As your local Boulder, CO vet, we are dedicated to offering great veterinary care. Contact us today!