Giving back is important to Roger Petingell, and he’s proud to support the non-profit organization Southeastern Guide Dogs. Here, Petingell shares why guide dogs are such an important part of a happy, healthy life for many differently-abled people.
Service dogs are expertly trained to care for their owners in various ways. Watching for hazards is a key part of a service dog’s training–they’re able to alert their owner to potential dangers, including potholes, curbs, and other issues that could make it hard for their owner to move through life Roger Pettingell notes.
Guide dogs are also able to reason through a training process called intelligent disobedience. If an owner instructs a guide dog to cross a street, but the guide dog sees traffic approaching, they will disobey the command. Guide dogs aren’t following their owner’s commands no matter what–their intelligence and training allow them to make smart decisions that protect their owner.
Guide dogs are also taught to get help from others when necessary, behave in public places, and perform specific tasks for their owners. In addition to providing necessary help with day-to-day life, a guide dog also serves as a loyal friend and provides all of the emotional comforts people enjoy from pets.
Training a guide dog is both extensive and expensive, Roger Pettingell explains. Guide dog training does not start until the dog is about a year and a half old. Sometimes, families foster puppies who work to socialize and house train them before they’re ready for their formal guided training to begin.
Most guide dogs undergo a six-month training process once they’re old enough to learn the skills to help them serve their owner. For the majority of the training process, guide dogs work closely with an experienced trainer who teaches them the skills they need to know. For the last month or so of the process, the guide dog gets to know its owner. The owner also receives training on how to communicate with their guide dog, Roger Petingell goes on to mention.
Absolutely not. Many people have the misconception that guide dogs are only for people who are blind or otherwise visually impaired, but service dogs actually serve many populations, including people living with post-traumatic stress disorder, children with epilepsy, and more. If you think a guide dog or service dog may be a good fit for your needs, chat with your doctor to discuss whether moving forward with a guide dog training organization could help improve your quality of life.