Spotlight on Service Dog Contributions

We have a tremendous respect for service dogs. From terriers and cocker spaniels to golden retrievers and German shepherds, these remarkable canines have helped many people enjoy more rewarding lives. Although the dogs’ tasks vary, they all stay calm and focused regardless of the situation around them. When visiting your veterinarian, you might have observed a service dog quietly awaiting his appointment.

Seeing-Eye Dogs

Also known as “guide dogs,” these world-renowned companions have been assisting owners for decades. These fearless dogs help people with partial or complete eyesight loss to function in their homes, negotiate streets and sidewalks, and visit public places. Besides guiding their human partner, they must anticipate curbs, traffic, and obstacles that might pose a danger.

Canine Mobility Assistants

Mobility dogs work with owners who have difficulty completing basic household tasks. Depending on the person’s physical abilities, a dog might be trained to retrieve a telephone, push a button, or open a door. A specially trained pooch can help to balance a person as they walk or move from a wheelchair to a stationary chair. This task, and others requiring considerable strength, might be appropriate for larger dogs.

Sound Signaling Specialists

Owners with partial or complete hearing loss might rely on a signal dog (or hearing dog) who serves as their ears. Before meeting their human partner, the dog must learn to identify sounds produced by the doorbell, phone, or smoke alarm, among others. If the owner has an infant, the dog must learn to detect the sound of a crying baby.

The dog must display the proper signal that corresponds to that noise. He might show a certain behavior, bring an object to his owner, or take them to another part of the house to resolve the problem.

Medical Alert Dogs

A dedicated medical alert dog can literally help save his owner’s life. Typically, the person lives alone while managing a chronic and potentially life-threatening medical condition. The person relies on the dog to identify scents or other signs that foretell an oncoming attack. The dog can be trained to detect acute medical problems such as strokes, heart attacks, seizures, diabetic problems, or panic attacks.

If you want to learn more about service dogs’ abilities, and locate a regional training organization, ask your veterinarian to provide details during your pet’s next physical checkup.