Our dogs are a major part of our lives, and if you have a service dog, you can attest to just how much of an impact they have on your day-to-day. They make the most difficult tasks seem less stressful and provide a light for those suffering from ailments outside of their control. Service dogs can bring a smile to your face when you’re low, help you get to where you need to go, or even bring you medication. What does your dog do for you? What are some of the ways they bring positivity to your life?
Service dogs can help their owners both mentally and psychologically. They provide comfort in the face of anxiety, relief for those struggling with depression, and also aid in a variety of other mental health issues such as PTSD. Psychiatric service dogs, for instance, are a type of service animal that are trained specifically to assist those with mental illness perform certain tasks. For example, those suffering from PTSD can have their service dog perform room searches and even turn on lights for them to reinforce the fact that the room is in fact safe to enter. They can also bring medication or water to an owner who is having an episode or unable to retrieve it themselves. A service dog can even be trained to call 911 in the event of an emergency. These animals are more than just pets and are meant to provide a sense of security and contribute to a healthier and happier mind and increase a handler’s psychological wellbeing.
“You know, a dog can snap you out of any kind of bad mood that you’re in faster than you can think of.” – Jill Abramson
Many people find it hard to even gain the motivation to get out of bed and begin their day. Having a service dog means you have a reason to get going in the morning, they are depending on you! A dog helps you remain active by encouraging you to get outdoors. You can take your service dog out for a run, a hike, or even just a walk. No matter what you’re doing, as long as you’re getting outdoors, your health will improve! Regular physical activity leads to a stronger heart and better blood circulation. Higher oxygen levels mean you are at a much lower risk for high cholesterol or a heart attack. Regular physical activity can also lower your blood pressure, which means your chances of getting hypertension are minimal. You’ve heard the saying – “an apple a day keeps the doctor away?” I guess you could say that service dogs are the apples in many peoples’ lives.
“It’s just the most amazing thing to love a dog, isn’t it? It makes our relationships with people seem as boring as a bowl of oatmeal.” – John Grogan
The Social Impact
There are studies that show that a service dog can help an owner be more functional in their lives emotionally, and socially. This is very beneficial for those having to communicate frequently in the workplace or in their personal lives. Communication is an essential factor in life so it is unavoidable. Service dogs can also encourage you to interact with other people, in a dog park for instance. Dogs will put you in situations where you are forced to practice your social skills without even realizing it at first. It can be very challenging for someone with a debilitating mental health issue to feel functional in society. Increased social capabilities will allow for better job performance, strengthen friendships and relationships, and also encourage a handler to branch out more in general. Your service dog helping to minimize anxiety will make being social much less stressful.
“My main characters are the most sunny, happy, optimistic, loving creatures on the face of the Earth. I couldn’t be happier that’s where I start. I can put as many flawed people in the dog’s world as I like, but the dog doesn’t care. Dog doesn’t judge, dog doesn’t dislike. Dog loves. That’s not so bad.” – Bruce Cameron
Types of Service Dogs
1.) Guide dogs: A guide dog is a service dog trained to assist those who are blind with getting around town, accomplishing errands, crossing the street, etc. They are trained to safely guide an owner to their destination and can even remember specific locations that are frequented such as home or a local coffee shop.
2.) Hearing Dogs: Hearing dogs help people who are deaf or significantly hearing impaired be aware of fire alarms, doorbells, or other things that urgently need their attention. To notify their owner of this, a service dog will tap them with their paw.
3.) Mobility Assistance Dogs: Someone who is suffering from a mobility issue and is perhaps in a wheelchair can benefit from this service dog. Mobility assistance dogs can bring necessities to an owner or even push a button to open a door.
4.) Diabetic Alert Dogs: For those with diabetes, alert dogs can let them know when their blood sugar is low before it becomes a major issue.
5.) Seizure Alert Dogs: For people with epilepsy, this type of service dog can alert them and those around them when they are about to have a seizure so they can take the proper precautions.
6.) Seizure Response Dogs: These dogs actually offer help to someone having a seizure by bringing them to a safe location, calling 911, or getting a person to come help.
7.) Psychiatric Service Dog: This type of service dog assists those suffering from depression, anxiety, PTSD, or other mental health issues as the result of a traumatic event.
8.) Autism Support Dogs: Children on the spectrum greatly benefit from the company of a dog. Dogs are a great companion for autistic kids, giving them a sense of comfort and making it easier for them to make new friends.
9.) FASD Support Dogs: These dogs may be a type you haven’t heard of yet. They actually provide assistance to children exposed to alcohol in the womb and who suffer from fetal alcohol syndrome. These children can suffer from many issues both physically and mentally as well as behaviorally.
10.) Allergy Detection Dogs: Allergy detection dogs are trained to sense when a child is near something that will cause a harmful or even deadly reaction. They can reveal if a certain food or snack at school contains something the child is allergic to and prevent them from consuming it.
As you can see, there are many different types of service dogs. They are all special and beneficial in their own way. These dogs are an important aspect of the mental health and wellness world since they offer such useful skills. Service dogs provide handlers with a sense of comfort, happiness, security, and overall wellbeing. They can even help someone improve their social skills and strengthen relationships with those closest to them. These animals are not just pets, they are family, and family has your best interests at heart at all times. Family has your back through the toughest times, and that is the difference that service dogs make in our lives.
“Dogs have given us their absolute all. We are the center of their universe. We are the focus of their love and faith and trust. They serve us in return for scraps. It is without a doubt the best deal man has ever made. ” – Roger A. Caras