Dogs are often said to be man’s best friend, and they certainly are, but there are some dogs out there who go above and beyond the call of that loving bond. From police service to personal guides to herding sheep or cattle, service dogs offer a lot to their trainers and masters.
In addition to working for us, there are some particularly trained dogs out there who work with us. Assistance dogs are there to aid those who have some sort of limitation and may not be able to get around without the help of a well trained four-legged friend. Those who are disabled and having an assistance dog will be more than willing to tell you how essential their animal is to their everyday life.
A short list of the different ways assistance dogs can aid the disabled is as follows:
Guide or “Seeing Eye” Dogs:
If you were to ask someone about assistance dogs, this would be the first one that comes to mind. These dogs are specially trained to help those who are visually impaired function more easily and safely in the everyday world. These dogs help their masters find their way around, get up stairs and cross streets. An indispensable tool to those who need them, they keep their masters safe in situations that could otherwise be dangerous.
Hearing dogs aid those who are hearing impaired. They are trained to get their owner’s attention when they hear specific noises. When someone comes to the door, calls on the phone, or when they hear a horn (among other sounds), they alert their masters to the sound.
Mobility Assistance Dogs:
For those of us who have a hard time getting around, these animals are trained to pull their wheelchairs, carry small equipment and items in their special doggy service backpacks and other such tasks.
Seizure Response/Alert Dogs:
These dogs are with their master all of the time and constantly on the look out for trouble. In case of cardiac arrest or seizure, they are trained to hit a certain button connected to a special phone line that directly dials 911. The 911 operators recognize that the incoming call is coming from a service dog line and will notify paramedics that there may be an emergency with the registered owner of the service dog.
Psychiatric Service Dogs:
For those with severe mental illness or phobias, these dogs are continually by their side and offer emotional comfort and security to their owners. Service dog owners with autism are helped to stay focused by their psychiatric service dog. This working dog provides a stable and constant relationship for their owners to seek comfort in.
Combination Service Dogs:
For some owners with multiple limitations or disabilities, their service dogs are trained to perform multiple assistance jobs. Their impressive ability to learn to aid their owners with more than one limitation is only surpassed by their consistency in doing their jobs. These dogs become a big necessity to their master’s lives and are widely recognized as very intelligent and very hard working.
The tasks these service animals learn are vital to their owners’ lives, but just as important is the constant companionship and comfort they offer to their masters. They function as helpers, but they are also incredible friends.