Are you a canine lover? Most dog owners love the many advantages of having a dog as a pet. Not only are they provided with a furry new friend to love and care for, but they also have the added sense of protection that their pets offer. While dogs are proven to be beneficial to have as pets, dogs can also be trained to do a great deal to help families in need and the communities they live in. Service dogs, in particular, are highly trained animals that are able to assist their owners in more ways than one.
How do service dogs give back to the community?
1. Guiding the Blind
One of the most common types of service dogs are guide dogs for the blind, or seeing eye dogs. Such dogs are trained to help the visually impaired get around safely. Such dogs are trained to make informed decisions when it comes to caring for their owner. They are also highly trained on how to behave well in public while also staying focused and avoiding distractions.
2. Dogs for the Deaf or Hearing Impaired
For individuals who are hearing impaired, service dogs referred to as hearing dogs are trained to provide them with assistance. Hearing dogs act as an “alarm system” of sorts, making their owners aware of different sounds. Through physical contact, the dogs are also trained to lead their owners to the source of sound when necessary. Hearing dogs give their owners a sense of freedom they would not be able to receive by living on their own. They are trained to be very alert when out in public making their owners aware of their surroundings. With time, the owner and dog learn to work as one to get through each day.
3. Mobility Assistance
For individuals who have a hard time getting around on their own, such as those with balance and strength problems, a mobility assistance dog is beneficial. They can perform a number of tasks to assist their owners including pushing buttons, bringing things out of reach closer, turning lights off and on, opening doors, and even picking up things on the floor that have been dropped. For individuals who are wheelchair bound, a mobility assistance dog can even offer extra support in getting around by pushing or pulling the chair.
4. Therapy Dogs and Healing
When it comes to recovering from certain aliments, therapy dogs are on hand to help out. Their gentle and calming nature makes them great companions for seniors and younger children. Many hospitals utilize therapy dogs to help patients heal. Their tasks can vary widely depending on the needs of the patient. Therapy dogs can complete anything from sitting and snuggling with the elderly, or sitting and listening to a child as they read. They also assist in educating individuals on humane animal treatment and frequently visit places like senior citizen buildings, nursing homes, schools, and more. You’ve likely seen such a canine wearing a therapy dog vest while traveling to different destinations.
5. Aiding Those with Diabetes
Diabetes service dogs are ideal for those who have type 1 diabetes. Diabetic sufferers, who often deal with low blood sugar or hypoglycemia, are often unaware that their sugar is dropping. Diabetes service dogs in this instance learn how to tell when their owner’s blood sugar is dropping so that they can alert them right away. This essentially prevents the need for an emergency room visit and can ultimately help diabetic sufferers learn to live a more active lifestyle.
6. Seizure Alert Dogs
Individuals who suffer from frequent seizures benefit from seizure alert dogs. The service dogs are trained to alert their owners when a seizure is coming on. Their alerts allow seizure sufferers to properly lay down before it actually occurs. Such service dogs must be highly trained to understand their owner’s emotions and feelings so that they can essentially alert their owners when something is wrong.
7. Helping to Improve the Mind
If you suffer from a mental illness, such as depression, anxiety, or post traumatic stress disorder, you can benefit from an emotional support dog. These dogs are trained to help sufferers of mental illness around the home, as well as out in public. Their responsibilities might include reminding their owner to take their medication, making sure that they follow their schedule accordingly, or even being their companion when they seem to be emotionally overloaded.
8. Supporting the Military
Military service dogs are highly beneficial to soldiers who have been to war. They are specifically trained to work with military veterans who may be suffering from post traumatic stress disorder, as well as those who may have been injured and have a hard time getting around. Their training will depend on their owner’s needs, but can include getting assistance in an emergency; recognizing symptoms of mental illness; and other functions, such as mobility assistance.
9. Fighting Crime: Police Dogs
Last but not least on the list: police dogs. These service dogs are highly trained in assisting local officers in fighting crime, such as finding a missing person, sniffing out illegal substances, detecting explosives, and much more.
As you can see, dogs can do a great deal for families and communities that go well beyond just being a furry companion. With the proper training they can assist those who cannot care for themselves, and even do their part in fighting crime within the community. When you realize exactly how much a dog can do to help others, it makes you love your furry little friend all the more.