September is National Service Dog Month, where we get the chance to show our appreciation for the dedication and amazing work these puppers do for their people — day in and day out. We invite you to join us in acknowledging these heroes and their efforts.
The History of National Service Dog Month
It all began with the actor Dick Van Patten. Inspired by the help service dogs provide humans with particular ailments, he spearheaded a fundraising initiative to benefit pups enrolled in service dog training schools. After being named an honorary board member of the Guide Dogs of the Desert, Mr. Van Patten’s leadership and outreach led to fundraising efforts expanding across the country — and the eventual creation of National Service Dog Month.
The Types of Service Dogs
Service dogs are trained to perform specific tasks for people with disabilities as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). There are eight distinct types of service dogs:
- Guide Dogs
- Diabetic Alert Dogs
- Seizure Response Dogs
- PTSD Service Dogs
- Mobility Assistance Dogs
- Allergy Detection Dogs
- Autism Service Dogs
- Hearing Dogs
While Golden Retrievers and Labradors are the most common breeds of service dogs, any dog can be trained to perform the role — as long as they have the right temperament.
How to Interact with Service Dogs in the Wild
We all fall prey to the temptation to want to greet, pet, and play with every fluffball we see. However, it’s important to remember that service dogs are working dogs. Since they need to focus on the task at hand, it’s essential to approach them the right way.
- Approach the human, not the dog
- Ask permission before touching the dog
- Keep your dog away from a service dog
- If a service dog approaches you and sniffs or paws at you, alert the handler as this may be a behavior that needs further correction
- A sleeping service dog may still be on duty
- If a service dog approaches you on its own, it’s a sign that its human may need help
As a rule of thumb, a service dog wearing a harness is “on the job” and needs to be treated appropriately.
How You Can Observe National Service Dog Month 2022
First, donations go a long, long way. Your contributions can help a training organization expand its programs and help more people. Another positive approach? Visit with the dogs currently in training. As we all know, dogs love treats and positive attention. Spending time with them in their downtime, and showing them your appreciation, serves as the positive reinforcement that helps them grow to become the best they can be for their people. Fostering a service dog and helping them learn — and perfect — their roles is another wonderful way to help. Just reach out to the nearest service dog training organization to see how you can help.
The wait lists for service dogs are long, and the intensive training can cost thousands and thousands of dollars. The team here at Pampered Pet Resorts is committed to doing all we can to promote this worthy cause, so we’re honored to invite you to join us in celebrating these four-legged heroes.