September is Service Dog Month! Service dogs definitely deserve to be honored. These wonderful pups help us in many ways, and have made a world of difference in many people’s lives. A Mesa, AZ vet discusses service dogs below.
Fido has been a working dog for thousands of years. However, he was traditionally occupied with things like hunting, tracking, and herding. Man’s Best Friend made a career change back in the 1920’s, when he became a Seeing Eye Dog. Since then, our furry pals have moved into many different fields, from search and rescue to law enforcement to mobility assistance.
In 1990, the Americans With Disabilities Act defined service dogs as “a dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for a person with a disability.” This legislation also mandated that service dogs are allowed almost anywhere. The only exceptions are places like zoos, where they may frighten other animals, and hospitals, which must be kept sterile.
German Shepherds were traditionally the breed most often used as service dogs. Nowadays, many different breeds can be service dogs. Some common ones include Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, and even Poodles.
What does the modern service dog do? The list is actually pretty long. A Mobility Assistance dog may help pull a wheelchair or just help keep their human stable while walking. Diabetic service dogs may alert their owners to an oncoming sugar crash, while Seizure service dogs can detect seizures before they happen. There are also Psychiatric service dogs, which may help people with PTSD, depression, and/or anxiety. Service dogs can also be trained to do things like fetch help, remind their humans to take medication, open doors, or turn lights on and off.
There is often confusion between therapy dogs, emotional support dogs, and service dogs. Of the three, only service dogs are afforded special privileges by law. Also, they are usually trained to serve one specific person, while a therapy dog may help many different people. Emotional support dogs, as the name suggests, mostly provide moral support. There is a common approach to interacting with these pups, though. Unless the dog approaches you—which may be a signal for help—just leave him be. After all, Fido is working!
Do you have questions about your pet’s health or care? Contact us, your local Mesa, AZ vet clinic, today!