Dogs and Space

Graphic from the Friends of the Pflugerville Animal Shelter

Socializing your dog is an imperative part of being a responsible pet owner. Other dogs may not appreciate an unknown dog running up to them and invading their space, and similarly, people may not not like a dog doing this, even if that dog does this out of overly friendly enthusiasm. Remember, some people are legitimately afraid of dogs because of negative experiences. Service dogs and their handlers need to focus on going about their business and not being distracted by an unpredictable dog.

Photo by Pexels

Be respectful of other people, their dogs, and the spaces of both.

Dog Spotlight: Sully

Former President George H.W. Bush passed away on November 30 at the age of 94. What you may not have known is that Mr. Bush had been matched with a service dog, Sully, earlier this year. One can only imagine what is going through Sully’s mind in this poignant photo:

Photo credit: America’s VetDogs/Facebook

Both Zoe the Seeing Eye Dog and The Washington Post have highlighted the importance of Sully’s service to former President Bush. By doing so, I hope this sheds light on the invaluable assistance that service dogs provide to their handlers and loved ones.

National Service Animal Eye Exam Month

I’ve mentioned service dogs before on Purry Home Companion, and I think it’s important for the public at large to understand and appreciate how critical the services these dogs do for their handlers. Service dogs help people with a wide range of disabilities and medical conditions, including visual impairments, hearing impairments, mobility impairments, mental disorders (such as PTSD, anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder), autism, epilepsy, and diabetes. Because these working dogs are so indispensable to their handlers, much thought and care must be given to their health so they may continue to perform their duties as long as they have the will and ability to do so.

Photo courtesy of Service Dog Certifications

The American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists (ACVO) initiated a campaign ten years ago to offer free eye-screening examinations for service dogs. The only condition is for the animal to be certified by certain national, regional, or local organizations and actively working. Isn’t that cool?

Photo courtesy of Service Dog Registration

International Guide Dog Day

Today is International Guide Dog Day! To all guide and other assistance dogs out there, thank you for your service and life-changing work!
Guide or seeing-eye dogs are trained service animals that provide invaluable assistance to the blind and visually impaired. For example, they are trained to avoid obstacles, signal changes in elevation, retrieve dropped objects, and locate objects on command. These are just some of the many tasks a guide dog may do for his or her handler. There are formal training facilities, such as the Guide Dogs for the Blind, just for this purpose. Keep in mind that the handler and dog comprise a team. Be courteous and don’t distract the dog or the handler!

Photo courtesy of Southeastern Guide Dogs

There are many types of service dogs in addition to guide dogs. These include hearing, psychiatric, medical assistance, and mobility assistance. Here are some of the numerous tasks these marvelous animals are trained to do.

Photo courtesy of the American Kennel Club

Remember that the Americans with Disabilities Act distinguishes between service or assistance dogs, therapy dogs, and emotional support dogs. They are not the same thing, and only service dogs are protected by the ADA. If you have questions, check out these FAQs and handy infographic:

Infographic courtesy of Care2

Want to know more about guide dogs and how amazing they are? Check out Growing Up Guide Pup (website, Facebook page, and YouTube channel) and Zoe the Seeing Eye Dog!

Here are a few stories describing the astonishingly cool things that guide dog teams have accomplished! Guide dogs are true heroes!

Dog Spotlight: Seeing Eye Anniversary

On January 29, 1929, Morris Frank founded The Seeing Eye, the oldest guide dog school in the United States. This school is the founding member of the US Council of Guide Dog School as well as a fully accredited member of the International Guide Dog Federation. Today we celebrate the anniversary of the school’s founding and the importance of guide dogs everywhere (and by extension, service dogs in general).

What is a guide dog, or more generally a service animal? The Americans with Disabilities Act defines it as: any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability. Service animals are not the same as therapy animals or emotional support animals. Only service animals are protected by the ADA.

You may see service animals (dogs are the most common) working with their handlers. Remember that these dogs are working and must concentrate on what they need to do on behalf of their handlers. Don’t distract them. I know it’s tempting to want to pet such a well-behaved dog but be considerate. Some handlers are OK with people petting their dogs if their permission is asked for first; other handlers will decline and that’s fine too. Here are some additional etiquette guidelines as well as a few things that handlers want you to know.

If you’d like to learn more about service dogs, especially those assisting the blind, check out Growing Up Guide Pup and Zoe the Seeing Eye Dog.

One more thing to note: FAKE service dogs. Sometimes people try to pass off their pets, including emotional support animals, as service dogs so they can take their pet anywhere with them, enable their pet to fly for free, and avoid having to pay a pet deposit. This is a serious issue for service dogs and their handlers. Untrained pets in public areas, like planes and restaurants, can pose a big risk to those around them. Being able to spot a fake service dog and differentiate such from legitimate service animals is important. Most importantly, DO NOT misrepresent pets as service dogs. Don’t be that person. It’s not cool. Moreover, your actions can have significant consequences for those around you, especially working service dogs and their handlers.