Service with a smile is taken literally when service dogs come into play or work. Since dogs are man’s and woman’s best friend, you can’t go wrong choosing them. When I was given this topic, I remembered my good friend Kate Dolan has Oscar, a golden lab service dog. She is 28, has epilepsy and I got to interview her. This is how it went:
Adrian: How does your service dog help you?
Kate: He gives me comfort until help can come. Even though he cannot predict, he supports me if I fall.
Adrian: Do you have any tips to share with people who don’t know anything about service animals or disability?
Kate: There are a lot of service dogs out there for almost anything. Blind, epilepsy, hearing, diabetes and therapy dogs just to name a few. So asking questions is a good way to start.
Adrian: Should people ask permission to pet your service dog?
Kate: Yes. You cannot pet a service dog on duty, but depending on the training, you can pet a therapy dog. Always ask first.
Adrian: Can people ever take off their service dog’s vest and have you ever taken off your dog’s vest?
Kate: Yes they can. When the dog is not on duty and at home, it is possible. It depends on the person’s need or disability. Yes I have taken my service dogs vest off.
The first guide dog was trained at least as long ago as the Middle Ages and probably before that as evidenced by woodcuts depicting dogs guiding the blind.
The first modern guide dogs, what we now think of as guide dogs, were trained during and after WWI in response to the need for guides for soldiers blinded in the war.
“Buddy” the guide of Frank Morris was the first Seeing Eye dog, which was founded in 1929. The Seeing Eye is the oldest guide dog school still in operation.
The following information comes from a legal standpoint:
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) does not require service animals to wear a vest, ID tag, or specific harness. Service animals are animals that are individually trained to perform tasks for people with disabilities such as guiding people who are blind, alerting people who are deaf, pulling wheelchairs, alerting and protecting a person who is having a seizure, or performing other special tasks. Service animals are working animals, not pets.
Under the ADA, businesses and organizations that serve the public must allow people with disabilities to bring their service animals into all areas of the facility where customers are normally allowed to go. This federal law applies to all businesses open to the public, including restaurants, hotels, taxis and shuttles, grocery and department stores, hospitals and medical offices, theaters, health clubs, parks and zoos.
The most common dog breeds that are used as service dogs are Labrador retrievers, golden retrievers and German Shepherds. However, any dog can be used as a service dog. For example, the gentle giant, properly named the Great Dane, has been used as a service dog for an 11-year-old girl with a rare disorder. She has been mostly on crutches, but thanks to one sweet dog, she is moving around. The rest of the story can be found here: http://www.today.com/health/amazing-service-dog-helps-11-year-old-girl-rare-disorder-t55101
Service dogs have been around for a long time, and as time continues, they will continue to help the people they are with. From golden labs and retrievers to German shepherds and even great Danes, service dogs come in all shapes and sizes. Since dogs are man’s and woman’s best friend it only seems fitting for us to let the dogs out.
History information found at http://servicedogcentral.org/content/node/419
Legal information found at: https://www.nsarco.com/federal-law.html and https://www.ada.gov/regs2010/service_animal_qa.html (The ADA does not require…)
Written by Adrian Drower