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Four-Legged Heroes

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Service dogs go through extensive training to ensure that they can efficiently accommodate their owner with disabilities. (Photo by DodgertonSkillhause via Morguefile licensed under Creative Commons)

Service dogs go through extensive training to ensure that they can efficiently accommodate their owner with disabilities. (Photo by DodgertonSkillhause via Morguefile licensed under Creative Commons)

Service dogs go through extensive training to ensure that they can efficiently accommodate their owner with disabilities. (Photo by DodgertonSkillhause via Morguefile licensed under Creative Commons)

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Everyone has heard the saying “Dogs are a man’s best friend,” but for some, this phrase has a deeper meaning. People with certain disabilities or medical conditions rely heavily on dogs to assist them throughout everyday life. These dogs are called service dogs. Not to be confused with therapy dogs, service dogs are specifically trained in one area. There are many service dog organizations that breed and train dogs to help accommodate all sorts of human disabilities.

To have a service dog, you must have a disability. There is a service dog to accommodate each of the different disabilities.  For example, there are service dogs for those with visual impairment, hearing impairment, mobility impairment, diabetes, post traumatic stress disorder, and other mental or physical disorders. Service dogs are trained to perform tasks that their owner cannot. For instance, service dogs for people with seizures are able to detect and warn their owners before they actually have an episode. Service dogs can also perform simple tasks such as retrieving items, like keys, or answering and opening doors.

Although there is no specific dog breed requirement for service dogs, golden retrievers and labrador retrievers are most commonly used due to their temperament and breed health. It takes four to six months to train a service dog. Service dogs always need to be focused and well-behaved, especially when in public, considering that they are allowed into many public facilities that regular animals are not. To distinguish service dogs from other dogs, they wear a red vest with the words “service dog” imprinted on it.

Along with dogs, there are other service animals. Service animals, like service dogs, are animals that have been trained to perform tasks that assist people with disabilities. Although not as common as dogs, pigs, horses, and birds have all been documented as being service animals. Other animals such as cats are also considered service animals but only in certain states like Montana. Although more often used as therapy animals, cats still offer health benefits to those suffering from high blood pressure and other heart problems.

Service dogs are truly amazing animals. It is incredible that dogs can be trained to accommodate for people who cannot perform actions due to having a disability.

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Four-Legged Heroes