Reading my Bangor Daily News this past weekend, I saw the cover story on the USA Weekend pullout called “At Your Service.” The article talked about the role of service dogs in the lives of their people. From helping a child with Diabetes know when her blood sugar spikes, to a story about a German Shepherd who helps a veteran cope with PTSD, it’s not surprising that dogs help their people.
There are many stories about animals comforting people with physical and mental health conditions. Beyond that, pet owners generally live healthier, happier, and grounded lives. Many nursing homes and assisted living facilities own an in-house pet, usually, a cat, to comfort those living there.
More than just showing up, certified therapy dogs and service dogs go through quite a bit of training. There are a lot of distractions. Not every dog is capable, but that doesn’t mean they’re not valuable. They’re just not right for the job.
In 2010, I shadowed a local therapy dog named Hunley as he made his rounds. I’ll post that another day, but he impressed me. I felt touched seeing how much this one dog could make a difference.
If you think that your dog might be right for the task, consult a local training center to find out the training and testing dates. Talk with other owners of therapy or service dogs. Remember, your pet’s own happiness should come into play.