National Service Dog Month


Discussing The Month-Long Holiday That Promotes Service Dogs And The Roles They Fill In People’s Lives

Service dogs are one of the most useful and extraordinary occupations that a dog can fill. They are so important that the entire month of September is dedicated to honoring and appreciating them with the month-long holiday called National Service Dog Month. Not familiar with National Service Dog Month? Then you’re in luck! This article will discuss what a service dog is, why they’re so important, and offer some examples of common types of service dogs.

What Is A Service Dog?

A service dog can be defined as a working dog that is specifically trained to assist a person with a disability or specific needs. According to the American Disabilities Act, service dogs are not the same as other types of working dogs. Working dogs like search-and-rescue dogs, police dogs, and cadaver dogs are not considered service dogs. This also applies to emotional support dogs and therapy dogs as they are not considered service dogs either. 

Basically, service dogs are trained from a young age to perform or assist in one specific task or set of tasks. It’s important to note that service dogs are not considered pets. Instead, they are occupational companions there to assist their handler. Additionally, it’s worth noting that service dogs should not be treated as pets either. If you see a service dog in public, do not try and pet them as they are “on-the-clock” and you would only be distracting them from performing their duties. 

Service dog

The Origin Of The Holiday

National Service Dog Month is celebrated every year during the month of September. The holiday was founded in 2009 by Richard Van Patten. He was a comedian, businessman, American actor, and animal welfare advocate. Richard founded the holiday shortly after visiting the Guide Dog of the Desert campus in Palm Springs, California. It was here that Richard learned to appreciate the value of service dogs.

Richard was blindfolded and given a guide dog to help him navigate around the campus. With the help of the guide dog, Richard got to experience what blind or visually impaired people experience when working with a guide dog. He was so impressed with the guide dog’s navigational abilities that he then began creating fundraisers to help raise awareness and money for guide dog schools. These fundraisers were very successful and eventually became the month-long holiday known as National Service Dog Month.  

Various Types Of Service Dogs

Service dogs are specifically trained to help their handler with a specific task or set of tasks. Each type of service dog is different and must undergo different types of training. Here are some examples of the most common types of service dogs in the field today.

Guide dog

Guide Dogs

A very commonly known type of service dog is the guide dog. Also known as “seeing-eye-dogs,” these service dogs are trained to aid, protect, and guide people that are blind or visually impaired. Guide dogs assist their handlers in navigating through the world and in everyday situations. They do so by giving directional cues through body language. Guide dogs usually wear a specific type of harness that has a large handle attached to the top for their handlers to hold while the dog guides them. 

Seizure Response Dogs

A seizure response dog is a type of service dog that is specifically trained to respond to a seizure in someone who has epilepsy. According to the Epilepsy Foundation, a seizure response dog will do everything they can to help their handler in the event the handler is having a seizure. Common responses include alerting family members,  putting their body between the handler and the floor to break their fall, activating a pre-programmed device that works as an alarm (like Life Alert) and lying next to the handler to prevent injury. Some seizure response dogs have been known to sense a seizure coming in their handler before it even happens. 

Hearing dog

Hearing Dogs

Another commonly known type of service dog is the hearing dog. Hearing dogs are a type of service dog that is specifically trained to help deaf or hearing impaired people. They are trained to listen for common sounds and alert their handlers of said sounds. Examples of sounds they are trained to listen for include telephones, alarm clocks, smoke alarms, doorbells, and crying children. 

Diabetic Alert Dogs

A very unique and important type of service dog is the diabetic alert dog. This type of service dog is specifically trained to smell and detect the compounds that are released from their handler’s body when blood sugar is high or low. Maintaining blood sugar levels is essential for people with diabetes and these service dogs can help them maintain and regulate these levels before they become too high or low. 

Observing National Service Dog Month

This September, we encourage you to get involved with National Service Dog Month by donating to the cause. The average cost to train & raise a service dog is over $40,000 dollars. Any donations made will help the cause. To learn more about how and where you can donate, click here. You can also observe National Service Dog Month by posting about it on social media. While you’re at it, be sure to share this article with your fellow pet lovers! 

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