Say the words “service dog” and the first thing that most people think of is an individual with a white cane and either a Labrador Retriever, Golden Retriever, or German Shepherd in harness with that individual. While this is one of the manners that dogs are trained to be of service, there are many, many more and those three breeds of dogs are not the only ones trained.
Dogs can and are trained to be seizure alert dogs for those who suffer from seizure disorders. If the dog senses a seizure is about to begin (often through a sense of smell because the body’s bio-chemistry changes prior to a seizure), he or she will gently herd their companion to a safe place, often a couch or a bed. Dogs have been trained to assist with everyday life for people with limited mobility. They learn to open doors, bring items, turn lights on or off, and prevent falls. One of the best service dogs I’ve had the honor to know was trained for just this purpose. Most dogs, trained or not, can be incredible sources of emotional stability and comfort for those suffering from anxiety disorders. Many dogs have been used in psycho-therapy with abuse victims because what a victim will not be able to articulate to a therapist, they can and will speak of to that dog.
There is some etiquette to remember if you see a service dog at work. If the dog is in harness or wearing a jacket (often in blue), please remember that dog is working. Don’t walk up and pet the dog or offer him/her food. Please don’t even ask if you can pet the dog because that puts the person with the service animal in an awkward position. Most have no problem saying “no”—but just avoid the situation. Service dogs, while in harness or jacket, are allowed EVERYWHERE. Period. Anywhere that service dog’s person can go, the service dog can go. It’s the law.
For thousands of years, dogs have been our loyal companions—herding our flocks, guarding us and our children, sounding the alarm when an intruder is sensed—so asking them to assist in making living easier for a person with a disability is just a natural progression of that loyalty. May we all ever be worthy of that loyalty.
About Lynda J. Cox
Fairly certain she was born at least one hundred and fifty years too late and most certainly born in the wrong part of the country, Lynda J. Cox is a mom, wife, and hopeless romantic. She has a Master’s degree in English from Indiana State University and does absolutely nothing with it, other than stare at the framed diploma and wonder what else she could have done with that money. She raises and shows collies and blames her doggie addiction on the television show Lassie. When she’s not on the road to the next dog show, she likes to pretend she’s a Western historical romance writer. Her first book The Devil’s Own Desperado was published by The Wild Rose Press and her second Smolder on a Slow Burn will be released August 20th by the same publisher.
“This is a beautiful story about acceptance and changing for the better.”
The Romance Reviews – The Devil’s Own Desperado