Unsung Heroes: The Reach and Impact of Today’s Service Dogs

A service dog opening a gate.

Far more than pets, service dogs are highly trained working dogs that assist differently-abled people. Sometimes, it’s their mere presence that provides a service to those in need. Other times, their specialized skills save lives. Service dogs are vital to humankind, but they aren’t all the same. It’s always fascinating to learn about the numerous types of working canines, and the many ways they impact the world.

Missing Piece

Service dogs work for people. Whether performing search and rescue, guidance assistance, or something highly specific, like detecting blood sugar or the onset of seizures, service dogs are nothing less than heroic. As such, they are protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and enjoy all the rights of the people they serve. 

Perhaps most importantly, service dogs allow their handlers to have greater independence, security, and confidence. The valiant efforts of service dogs reduce the rates of depression and stress. 

Multi-Faceted Pooches

You may have heard of emotional support dogs or therapy dogs. While essential to those that depend on them for company and support, unfortunately, even medically prescribed support dogs do not meet the same standards set for service dogs. Thus, the protections afforded to service aren’t equally enjoyed by emotional support or therapy dogs. To qualify as an assistance animal protected by the ADA, a dog must be professionally trained and certified to help with a specific disability.

Types of Service Dogs

There are 8 distinct types of service dogs:

  • Guide Dogs: Trained to help visually impaired people, guide dogs reduce obstacles and injuries. 
  • Hearing Dogs: Deaf or hard of hearing individuals benefit from the high rate of responsiveness and reliability from their assistance dogs. Alarms, doorbells, traffic sounds, and so much more can be communicated by hearing a dog to their handler. 
  • Autism Service Dogs: These amazing dogs can alert their handlers (or their handler’s parents/caregivers) of potentially dangerous situations. They can also be trained to interrupt harmful behavior, alert their handlers to certain stimuli, and aid in important daily tasks. 
  • Diabetic Alert Dogs: These dogs are vitally important to diabetic people. By noticing even subtle dips in blood glucose levels in saliva, these dogs can bring awareness to serious health threats. Being alerted by their dogs, diabetic people can take steps to control their health and achieve independence and confidence. 
  • Seizure Response Dogs: When faced with a life-threatening seizure in their handler, these service dogs can contribute to life-saving measures. They can retrieve medication, alert people for help, and remove or reduce dangerous environmental elements. 
  • Mobility Assistance Dogs: These special service dogs assist their wheelchair-bound handlers by bringing them objects, pushing/pulling their wheelchair, operating doors, and turning lights on/off.
  • PTSD Service Dogs: People that suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder can be soothed by service dogs. They can interrupt destructive behavior, remind their handlers to take medicine, and generally provide a sense of value and well-being.  
  • Allergy Detection Dogs: Severe allergies can result in life-threatening anaphylactic shock, but these service dogs can trace known allergens in their handler’s environment, such as peanuts, wheat, eggs, and dairy. 

Simply the Best

Knowing first-hand the impact that service dogs have on all of our lives, we hope you’ll call us at (248) 646–5655. Service dogs are incredibly capable at saving and supporting lives, and deserving of excellent veterinary care