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Thank You For Your Service, My Furry Friend

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Thank You For Your Service, My Furry Friend

September is a wonderful month. It is the beginning of fall, cozy clothes, and watching the leaves drift from previously blooming trees. What most of us don't know about September, however, is that it is also National Service Dog Month. Service animals are very prevalent in our society today, and it is high time that the canines of the job receive a little recognition.

What You Should Know about Service Dogs

1. Not All Service Dogs Look, or Bark, the Same

While many people expect to see only the typical retriever breed or German shepherd wearing the vest marking them as a service animal, almost all breeds actually have the capability to become one. As long as the dog has the personality and is physically fit for what needs to be done, there are no limits to what breed can get the job. Many different dogs fit into many different aspects of the service industry. For example, while one type can physically assist as a support animal, others are specially trained to detect certain medical conditions such as seizures or allergic reactions. Other canines learn to be guide dogs, helping those who are blind or deaf. Service dogs generally are there to assist in the instance of a medical circumstance.

2. Emotional or Physical?

Emotional support dogs are not registered as service dogs. A service dog is a specially trained canine who helps in the place of a handlers disability. This does not include a personality trait the dog possesses, it must be a reliable, trained ability of the dog to perform in times of need.

With this, service dogs may not always be paired with someone suffering from a physical ailment. Neurological illnesses, diabetes, or hearing loss patients may be in need of a service canine. Therefore it is important to respect the handler and the animal, whether or not the reason for the dog's necessity is obvious.

3. A Very Special Skill Set

Service dogs can be trained in a variety of ways. These include picking up dropped items, opening and closing doors, operating light switches, or pulling wheelchairs up slanted surfaces. Also, they can awaken PTSD patients from nightmares, lick a person suffering from a seizure to help end the seizure with physical touch, alert diabetics to changes in blood sugar, or stabilize an unstable handler. These are just  a few of the more common services these animals provide.

4. Are Service Dogs Allowed Anywhere?

Service dogs are indeed not allowed in any institution. While they are permitted to be in public places, such as stores, many restaurants, and airports, certain spots prohibit service dogs. This is not discriminating against them or their owners, it is simply a matter of safety or preference by the establishment. These places include churches and houses of worship, aquariums or zoos where a service dog's presence could disrupt the environment of the other animals, or high-risk medical facilities like MRI rooms, sterile labs, or burn units.

5. All Dressed Up

While it is common to see a Service dog in full gear, a harness, jacket, and leash, it is not a law in the United States that they must wear this ensemble. Whether or not it is advertised, a service dog is a service dog. They do not require paperwork but must be obviously trained and obedient, with very good manners. If employees of a public place are unsure if the dog is registered as a service animal, they may only ask two questions of the handler. The first, "Is this a service dog?" and the second, "What does the dog do for you?"

Service dogs are amazing additions to any disabled person's life, and September, National Service Dog Month, is all about honoring their fantastic contribution to society.  

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