Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Service Dogs

There are many uses for service dogs besides guiding the blind/legally blind. (I don't claim to be an expert. I ask or look up a lot of information.)

Service dogs are also used for special needs people (autistic, wheelchair-bound, deaf/hard of hearing, etc.)

Some dogs are trained to assist the police by finding missing people or narcotics.
Others visit nursing homes and similar facilities to brighten up a patient's day.

I guess because I was hard of hearing myself, I have heard of service dogs for the deaf/hard of hearing. These dogs are trained to alert the deaf person of smoke alarms, doorbells, telephones, vehicles that are coming, and even a baby crying. There are light signaling systems, too, that can alert a deaf person when the doorbell/phone rings. Or when a baby cries. Or when the smoke alarm goes off. But those signals don't help outside the home.

For autistic children, some service dogs offer companionship and helps the child open up more. Here is a heartwarming article on it.

A question was asked about guide dogs for the deaf/blind. Are there service dogs that are trained especially for the deaf/blind? The answer that was given was no. Which service dog would be in the best interest in this situation? A service dog for the deaf or blind? A deaf/blind person gets a guide dog for the blind.The reason for this is because a quide dog is working when the harness is on. When the harness is off, the dog is on a break. It would be too much work for the dog to do a double duty and the dog would always be working. It wouldn't get a chance to rest. If there is anyone out there who can elaborate, I welcome it.

When a guide dog is working there are rules to follow:

1. Ask first if you may pet or speak to the dog.

2. Don't take it personally if the handler says no. The dog's priority is the blind person.

3. Don't give the dog any treats or toys.

4. Do not interfere when the handler is correcting the dog. When the blind person attends the training school and given a guide dog, they are taught how to correct the dog when it makes a mistake. If you think the handler is mistreating the dog or not handling it right, call the training school.

5. Do not distract the work of the dog by grabbing its harness or standing in its way.

6. Ask if the blind person needs help. Do not grab the person without permission. If the person does want assistance, let him take your arm and follow you. Don't push or pull him around.

7. By law, guide dogs have special rights. They should be able to enter public places. If you deny access, you may be breaking the law. Graduates of Guide Dogs for the Blind, Inc., have ID cards. If you doubt that the dog is a certified guide dog, ask to see the card.

(Another source:

I think that children should be taught this in schools. Maybe someone could be invited to schools to demonstrate what guide dogs do. And rules of what to do when you see a guide dog. Many children want to pet dogs. They love dogs. (My children included.) I always tell my children to ask the owner if they can pet the dog. Always.

Maybe even a demonstration of what other service dogs do.

I am sure some schools have assemblies for this, though.

If it would increase the awareness of what the dog's duties entail and why it is necessary to understand the reasons why it shouldn't be distracted, then these children will grow up to be conscientious adults who respect what guide dogs do.

I have heard of people grabbing hold of a blind person's cane to guide them in the right direction. This is also a big no-no. I firmly believe people need to be educated on this stuff.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home