Independence is fundamental for success, and can really boost a person’s confidence. However for some individuals with different disabilities, independence can be a hard to find.
Service dogs are able to provide more independence for a wide array of individuals. There are dogs for vision impaired people, hearing impaired people, individuals with PTSD, and many more.
Nicole Fields, is the kennel manager at the Thames centre service dogs. She says each dog is trained slightly differently, depending on what the clients’ needs are.
“For a psychiatric service dog for someone with anxiety, they could do deep pressure therapy. Whereas seizure alert dogs and diabetic alert dogs will vocally or physically alert when somebody is about to have a seizure, or when their blood sugar is low. So we have to do a little bit more intense training with those dogs.”
Since so many people are using the help of service dogs, it’s important to know how to act around them.
Fields goes over some proper etiquette procedures when coming in contact with a service dog.
“Don’t talk to the dogs at all. You’re allowed to talk to the handler and tell them how gorgeous their dog is. Don’t ask what the dog is for, don’t try to pet the dog, pretty much just try to ignore that the dog even exists.”
Fields says that by disobeying these rules, the dog can become distracted from doing their job, and many things could go wrong for the owner if the dog isn’t ready to help them.
With any dog comes loyalty, companionship, and a friend. Of course, it’d be nice to be able to bring your friend wherever you go, however many public establishments don’t allow pets to enter.
This can be because of allergens, unsanitariness, or simply personal preference. But it is required by law to allow service dogs to enter any building their owner needs or wants to go.
This has made some pet owners attempt to take matters into their own hands, and disguise their regular dogs as service dogs. This has become a problem for many people who own legitimate service dogs, because it’s getting harder to prove their need for their dog. Nicole Fields shares some times their clients have been mistreated.
“We’ve had clients who have been asked to leave a fast food chain restaurant because the person didn’t believe the dog was a service dog. We’ve had clients who have tried to check into hotels and have been refused a room. We end up having to contact those places and tell them they’re breaking the law.”
Nicole Fields believes service dogs play an incredibly important role in giving someone their life back.