At HDS Medallion, we cherish every moment we spend interacting face-to-face with our customers and visitors at expos. It’s not just about having the opportunity to bring our products directly to those who benefit from them the most, either. For us, every event is an opportunity to see first-hand the amazing ways people adapt their minds and bodies to manage whatever disability they may have, in order to improve their way of life. The more shows we attend, the more we find ourselves so impressed with the people and with the astounding capabilities of the service dogs who often accompany them.
If you were to ask the average person who they think benefits the most from a service dog, the typical response will most often be the blind. However, a service dog can be a life-changing blessing for people with all sorts of disabilities, enabling them with a level of freedom they may not be able to achieve without their four-legged helper.
A service dog isn’t just there to provide companionship, though that’s certainly one of the advantages. One of the benefits of pet ownership is knowing that, no matter how bad the day was, there is someone waiting at home who’s simply thrilled to see you. More importantly, service dogs make such outstanding partners for people with disabilities because of the wide range of skills they can learn. One beautiful service dog we met recently could respond to over sixty commands… amazing!
According to DisabilityAssistanceDogs.org, service dogs can be “specialized” in order to provide the skill set most needed for their owner. Mobility assistance dogs can pull a wheelchair or mobility device, reach objects their owner can’t, and assist with using stairs. They can even be trained to help their owners dress themselves. Medical response dogs can be trained to bring medications as needed, or help diabetic patients maintain their sugar levels. Seizure response dogs can comfort and assist owners when they experience a seizure, by laying them down, getting help, or detecting the seizure before it begins.
Needless to say, service dogs undergo very specific and lengthy training, and only certain breeds tend to work well. It’s not just about personality types, either. A service dog needs to be big enough to comfortably lift objects or open doors, while not being so large that it’s difficult to navigate public spaces. According to AssistanceDogsInternational.org, Golden Retrievers and Labradors tend to be the most popular breeds for service animals, meeting both the physical requirements as well as the personality needed. After all, no one has ever met an unfriendly Golden Retriever!
Dogs are known as “man’s best friend”, and nowhere is that more true than the relationship between a service dog and an owner. Any pet owner can tell you there’s nothing easier than loving your animal, but when that same animal also provides you with the help you need to live your life independently, it’s nothing short of miraculous.
Looking to help an organization that provides these animals to those in need, or know someone you think may benefit from the help of a service dog? There are a number of organizations you can contact, like those mentioned above, as well as DogsForTheDisabled.org, PawsWithACause.org, and NEADS.org, just to name a few. Help someone find their new best friend today!