National Service Dog Month is September
National Service Dog Month is in September, every year. It is designed to:
- Raise awareness for service dogs
- Show appreciation for these amazing animals, and the work that they do every day for their human companions
Overview of Service Dogs
Under the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) service dogs are a special type of working dog. They work with people with disabilities.
They are specially trained to do work or perform tasks that help to mitigate the effects of a disability.
In turn, people with disabilities can manage their disabilities better, improve their quality of life, and more fully participate in their communities.
Some examples of service dog work include:
- Retrieving objects for people when people are unable to
- Helping with balance
- Provide seizure alerts
- Provide diabetic alerts
- Helping people with psychiatric disabilities, such as PTSD (Post-Traumatic-Stress-Syndrome) and TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury)
- Helping people who are hard of hearing or deaf by alerting them to certain, important sounds
- Helping people with autism
Service dogs can help humans by:
- Improving cardiovascular health
- Increasing physical activity, which results in lower cholesterol and decreased blood pressure
- Offer a sense of support and a sense of calm for emotional and psychological stresses that occur on a daily basis
Service Dogs Are Not Comfort Animals
There is a difference between service dogs and emotional support dogs. The main difference is that service dogs are specially trained for an individual person’s disability.
They perform certain tasks that are directly related to that person’s disability. The work they do helps the person to, in some way, lessen the impacts of their disability.
Emotional support animals are not necessarily trained to do anything. They often merely provide comfort and support just by their mere presence.
This is just as important for the people who benefit from these animals. However, it’s important to note that emotional support dogs do not have the same public access rights as service dogs under the ADA laws.
However, emotional support dogs do have some rights when it comes to housing situations.
In other words, an emotional support dog may be excluded from a restaurant, but not from a housing situation. Emotional support animals are often utilized by people who have psychiatric disabilities.
History of National Guide Dog Month
Officially, it is known as National Guide Dog Month. National Guide Dog Month was first inspired by Dick Van Patten. He was an American actor, comedian, businessman, and animal welfare advocate. His career spanned seven decades.
He was impressed by the training and the sheer intelligence of working guide dogs. When he visited the campus of the Guide Dogs of the Desert, he was blindfolded. This gave him a real experience of how guide dogs help people who are blind.
He learned a few interesting facts about guide dogs:
- The costs to raise and train a guide dog is more than $40,000
- Training a guide dog can take up to two years
These facts inspired this animal lover to help raise awareness and funds for guide dog organizations that often provided these amazing animals to the people who need them the most, free of charge.
Van Patten then served as an honorary Board Member for the Guide Dogs of the Desert. Through his pet food company, he has underwritten all costs for the promotion of National Guide Dog Month. This ensures that all money raised benefits non-profit, accredited guide dog schools in the United States.
Support Guide Dog & Service Dog Organizations
Considering supporting a guide dog or service dog organization. There are too many to list here, but a few examples are:
Summit Assistance Dogs specializes in mobility-assistance dogs. These special dogs help people with various mobility challenges.
For example, dogs can be trained to retrieve dropped items, turn lights on and off, open doors, tug off clothing and other tasks. This helps people with the activities of daily living.
This type of service dog can help people who live with the following conditions:
- Spinal Cord Injury
- Cerebral Palsy
- Muscular Dystrophy
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Post-Polio Syndrome
- Other neurological conditions
Brigadoon dogs provide service dogs for Veterans, and Children and Adults with physical, developmental, and behavioural health disabilities. This helps to promote a more enriched and independent life.
PAVE provides custom-trained service dogs for Veterans. These special dogs are provided free of charge with lifetime support. These dogs can help veterans with conditions such as PTSD, MST, and TBI.
What these dogs can actually do to help veterans:
- Wake people up from nightmares
- Help to Improve sleep quality and quantity
- Work towards Increasing independence
- Increasing positive social interactions
- Lower symptoms of PTSD, MST, anxiety, and depression
- Reduce the need for medications
- Enhance quality of life and positive outlook
- Provide physical assistance with everyday tasks
- Help to reduce hypervigilance
At Dogs for Better Lives, certified professional staff train and place Assistance Dogs with:
- People who experience deafness
- Children who are on the autism spectrum
- Professionals such as teachers, physicians, and licensed therapists whose clients and students would be able to benefit from the dogs’ calming presence
Early Alert Canines aims to improve the health, safety, and well-being of insulin-dependent diabetics. This is done through partnerships with highly specialized and certified blood sugar alert dogs.
Guide Dogs for the Blind’s mission is to “harness the power of partnerships—connecting people, dogs, and communities—to transform the lives of individuals with visual impairments.”
Canine Companions for Independence serves:
- Adults who are living with physical or auditory disabilities
- Children with physical or cognitive disabilities 5 years or older
- Adults with physical or cognitive disabilities
- Veterans with a physical or auditory disability or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Professionals working professional in a health care, visitation, criminal justice or education settings
Guide Dogs of America believes that well-trained service dogs can offer new opportunities for people to live with greater independence, enhanced mobility, and improved social interactions
They have programs for:
- Visually impaired
- Facility Dogs
The Sam Simon Foundation provides hearing dogs for people who are living with severe hearing loss. Hearing dogs can alert people to important sounds, such as smoke alarms, telephones, and knocks on the door.
They also have a program for veterans. Psychiatric service dogs can help veterans with the effects of PTSD, TBI, balance issues, and anxiety.
Patriot PAWS is on a mission to train and provide high quality service dogs at no charge to disabled American veterans, and others people who live with mobile disabilities. This helps people to restore their physical and emotional independence.
Dogs For Life provides hearing dogs, and mobility service dogs. Mobility service dogs can help people with physical tasks.
Dogs For Life can help with:
- Spinal cord/head trauma
- Visual or hearing deficits
- Ataxia/poor balance
- Multiple sclerosis
- Cerebral palsy
- Muscular dystrophy
- Spinal bifida
- Psychiatric disabilities
New Horizons Service Dogs train service dogs to help adults and children in wheelchairs. And, to assist folks with other mobility and balance problems.
They have specialized programs for veterans with disabilities. And, another program for children with autism.
In addition, they also have facility dogs that help in other working situations, like rehabilitative facilities, nursing homes and private homes.
Eyes, Ears, Nose, and Paws deals with Medical Alert Service Dogs and Mobility Service Dogs.
As you can see, there are so many things that these amazing dogs can help us humans with. People with disabilities can be matched with one of these specially trained dogs, and their quality of life can be greatly improved. People can gain a greater sense of independence, among many other benefits.
Celebrate National Service Dog Month by honouring and spreading the word about these phenomenal animals.