Service Dogs can do many things to help people with
Hearing or Signal dogs serve as the ears of a person who is deaf or hearing
impaired. They alert their owners to sounds such as their name, the microwave
or oven timers, smoke alarms, the telephone, the doorbell, and many other
everyday sounds that play important parts in our lives. Hearing dogs may use a
paw touch or nose bump to get their handler’s attention, and then will take the
handler to the source of the sound, or in the case of a fire alarm, will take their
partner outside. Many Hearing Dogs wear bright, blaze orange collars, leashes,
and vests. These orange accessories signal that the dog is a Hearing Dog.
Mobility Assistant Service Dogs help people with physical disabilties. They may
pull their partner’s wheelchair, walk in harness and function as a mobile cane for
balance assistance, or perform any number of other tasks that the disabled
partner has difficulty doing. They are trained to retrieve dropped items, pull
clothing on and off of their partners, bring medication or a telephone in an
emergency, and many other amazing things. Some are even trained to help their
partner into and out of their wheelchair, and to help their partner rise from the
floor if he or she may fall. These weight-bearing tasks are of course dependant on
the Service Dog being large enough and strong enough to do them safely.
Phychiatric Service Dogs
Psychiatric Service Dogs are trained to help people with psychiatric disabilities.
These disabilities include anxiety/panic disorders, depression, agoraphobia, post
traumatic stress disorder, manic depression, and many other psychiatric
conditions. These Service Dogs can bring their partner’s medications or a
telephone in a crisis, provide a grounding effect by sitting with their partners and
allowing petting to calm the partner, and provide a focus based in reality. These
dogs can break dissociation spells by nuzzling or touching the partner repeatedly,
and calm hypervigilance by providing a “reality check,” eg, if the partner
hallucinates smells such as smoke, the dog can check to see if there really is
such an odor, or if the partner fears attack from a person when entering a house
or darkened room, the dog can check to see if there is anyone there. The dogs
also aid in getting people out of the house if they are afraid to leave or are in
deep depression, as the dog has regular toileting needs as well as exercise needs,
and often the person who is unable to do something for their own benefit will have
no problem doing it for the dog, eg a depressive who doesn’t want to get out of
bed for anything will still get up and get dressed to take the dog out to potty, and
is then far more likely to continue to remain up and functioning.
Seizure Alert/ Response Service Dogs
Seizure Alert and Seizure Response Service Dogs are trained to help people with
epilepsy or other seizure disorders. Seizure Alert dogs are very special, as they
have learned how to recognize the signs that their partner is going to have a
seizure, and provide them with advance warning, allowing the partner to get to a
safe place or take medication to prevent the seizure or lessen its severity. It is
unknown just how these dogs sense that a seizure is coming, but it is speculated
that they may be able to smell chemical changes in their partner’s bodies.
Seizure Response Service Dogs are trained to respond to a seizure while it is
happening. This may include placing their bodies over their partners, so as to pin
the partner to the ground and prevent injury. They may also be taught to sit with
the partner afterwards so as to help reorient them to their environment and quell
fears; some may use a persistant paw touch, nuzzle, or bump to bring the partner
back to “reality” and reassure them that they are all right.
Guide Dogs are the type of Service Dog that everyone is already familiar with,
as they are the oldest type of Service Dog, so I won’t go into much detail here.
Suffice to say, Guide Dogs help those with visual impairments and blindness find
their way around, as well as locate items that they may drop and not be able to
see to pick up, and many other tasks. There are numerous other websites that
deal with Guide Dogs in detail. See the Links section for some.
Medical Assistantce Service Dogs
asthma to cancer, ataxia to Alzheimers. There are many disabling medical
conditions that can be managed more easily with the aid of a trained Service
Animal. A serious medical disability doesn’t have to mean the end of
independence; Service Animals help people with every kind of disability. live happier, healthier, and more independent.