What Are Service Dogs? Breeds and Duties of These Fantastic Dogs
Service Dog History
There are approximately 500,000 service dogs in the U.S., and they serve in numerous capacities. Typically, larger herding dogs are trained as service dogs.
Blind or visually impaired people were probably the first to use a trained service dog. In 1780, the Les Quinze Vingts Hospital in Paris may have been the first training location of dogs to aid the blind. In the United States, the first hospital to train service dogs did so in 1929.
Typical Service Dog Breeds
Some of the common types of dogs chosen as service dogs include:
- German Shepherd
Pomeranians (medical alerts)
These dogs are known for their desire to cooperate with their handlers and their incredible working ability. Some have a great tenacity for police work. Some of these dogs can provide numerous tasks, and others have just one task they perform.
Dogs Trained to Smell Cancer
Recent research has shown that some dogs can smell cancer in urine or on a person’s breath, particularly for people with lung cancer. As dogs have 225,000,000 scent receptors in their nose and humans only have 5,000,000, there has been a large amount of double-blind studies to detect cancer.
One of the lung cancer studies using canine scent detection as compared to biopsies found 95% predictability. Breast cancer using urine samples was also 95%.
Dogs Can Smell Cancer
Police and Military Dogs
Police dogs are commonly used to detect drugs, explosives, and accelerants in arson cases. These dogs are commonly used for border security and at airports. Police dogs are taught to bite dangerous suspects and actually hold them hostage. Often they put their lives on the line to protect their human partners when they go up against an armed suspect.
Additionally, these dogs often search for lost victims that have been kidnapped, or for a person who gets lost in a wooded area. They are trained to find living and deceased victims. They also sort through rubble following an explosion, earthquake, or other disaster.
Dogs have been used by the military since the Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, and Attila the Hun. Dogs are essential used by the military to sniff out drugs, bombs, track the enemy and even attack if necessary.
A Real Service Dog Task Demonstration
Service Dogs for Veterans
Several non-profit organizations give service dogs to veterans at no cost if they served and have PTSD, traumatic brain injury, permanent physical disabilities, profound hearing loss, or military sexual trauma. These highly skilled service dogs accompany their partners by performing tasks and going wherever their partner goes.
The multiple tasks the dogs do include the following:
- Barking on command for help
Retrieving objects from the counters, floors or tables
Pushing elevator and automatic door buttons
Turning light switches on and off
Standing and bracing for stability
Getting a cell phone in an emergency
Key information is obtained during the application process, which will let the instructors match this information with the best-suited dog for the best success. The trainer’s objectives and goals relating to the needs of this applicant will be met.
The vet will eventually go to classes that will provide a calming effect and a sense of security. These classes will teach the vet how to prepare and how to get acquainted with their dog. The classes will also cover training in basic and advanced obedience, dog care, canine communication, and leading their dog through advanced handling techniques. The student will learn when to reward their dog throughout the working day and how to read their dog, anticipating the dog’s reactions.
To qualify with one of the non-profit organizations, the following rules must be met:
- Must have served in any branch of the U.S. Armed Forces and have received an honorable discharge.
A first responder with a work disability may apply.
Participate in a 2-week training program.
The person adopting a dog must agree to maintaining the dog’s training and provide for the dog’s well-being, which may cost up to $100 monthly.
Must meet the emotional and physical needs of the dog and needs a support system if/when the adopter is unable to meet the needs of the dog.
Professionals that work with military organizations may also be eligible to adopt a dog.
A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than you love yourself.— Josh Billings
Dogs for Patients With Seizures
The service dog for patients that have seizures is trained to help or assist the individual during or after a seizure. These dogs are trained to naturally detect an oncoming seizure and warn their partner of it. Roughly 65 million people around the world have epilepsy, with 3.4 million in the US.
The service dog will do the following:
- Display particular behaviors before a seizure.
Remain close to their partner during a seizure, preventing injuries.
Alert a caregiver, family member, or emergency response system.
Get a cell phone, an alert device, or medication.
Open a door or turn on a light.
The seizure service dog alerts their partner with close eye contact, licking, pawing, acting restlessly, circling, or pacing.
It is thought that when a person has a seizure they give off a different scent. It has not been proven true, but it is probable.
Why Service Dogs Are Remarkable
Service dogs are well-trained and remarkable. They are also used for patients with anxiety, diabetes, depression, autism, panic attacks, and MS.
These dogs can cost from $25,000 to $35,000, or if you get a dog from a private trainer, they may cost $10,000 to $12,000. The non-profit organizations give numerous dogs to needy individuals at no cost.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Questions & Answers
© 2019 Pamela Oglesby