National Service Dog Month

National Service Dog Month

Why is national dog service month celebrated?

National service dog month is an entire month in September dedicated to celebrate all the hard work service animals do to assist their human companions. This appreciation month started in 2008 when awareness was brought upon a program that trained dogs for the visually impaired: it was called “Guide Dogs of the Desert.” In support of the operation, actor and animal advocate Van Patten launched a fundraising drive to benefit the program and eventually became an honorary board member on the “Guide Dogs of the Desert” operation. He continued to promote national guide dog month with the intent of benefiting non profit organizations for service dogs, and after much fundraising, National Service dog month was officially confirmed in 2009.

What are service dogs?

Service dogs are trained to implement tasks for people with disabilities in their daily lives. They can help in very specific actions such as getting or returning items, alerting their owner of dangerous shifts in blood sugar, or even help with psychiatric disabilities. They also offer companionship, physical assistance and aid in mental health which can help them cope with their impairments and improve their overall quality of life. 

What are the types of service dogs?

It is generally considered that there are 8 types of service dogs that aid people in need:.

  1. Guide dogs assist visually impaired people with tasks like moving around the house or public spaces and are usually the most common type of service dog. 
  2. Emotional support dogs provide comfort to those with mental health conditions or disabilities. 
  3. Allergy detection dogs help people with severe allergies to foods. Because dogs have so many olfactory receptors, they can easily dissect the ingredients in a food dish and identify whether it is dangerous.
  4. Hearing dogs act as ears for their human companions and can also keep their owners company if they feel lonely.
  5. Mobility assistance dogs can retrieve objects, open automatic doors, carry bags, etc. for a movement impaired or disabled owner.
  6. Autism support dogs are trained to assist those with autism, often children so that they feel safer and calmer in new and unfamiliar environments.
  7. Diabetes alert dogs can help notify owners if their blood sugar levels are too low before they experience any serious symptoms.
  8. Psychiatric service dogs help those with mental illness including PTSD and schizophrenia by acting as emotional support animals.

How can I get a service dog?

If you are considering getting a service dog, first think about whether you have the financial means of pet ownership. Training, feeding, and grooming dogs can be expensive, and dog ownership in general is a large commitment, one that should be taken seriously. If you are ready, talk to your doctor, therapist, or mental health professional who could provide advice and resources on the requirements to qualify for a certain type of service dog and how to legally own one.