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Service Dogs: What is that dog's job?
October 4, 2016
The type of work that service dogs do can vary greatly, and often when just passing by somebody with a service dog it may not be quickly obvious what exactly the dog is doing to help them. So we wanted to give you a general idea about what some dogs will do for people with visible and invisible disabilities.
Remember it is unlikely that you will be able to tell what a particular service dog's job is or when their human will need them just from looking at them, so even when service dogs are relaxing or sleeping do not distract them- their human partners are really depending on them to be focused and ready to work at the moment they are needed!
We've categorized the type of work based on the general types of disabilities, but since each dog is individually trained for each person- most dogs will do a little bit of everything listed below. Or many may have been trained to do things not on this list!
The list of things that service dogs can do could go on and on and often include normal everyday things like carrying laundry, picking up a bottle of medication that fell to the floor, meeting a new person, or opening the front door to a restaurant. While for some people these are thoughtless, mundane tasks - for other people they are big hurdles to try and get through in their day to day life, sometimes being so difficult or dangerous they are unable to live or work independently. So the purpose of the service dog is to do whatever those everyday tasks are that might be preventing their human from living the life they otherwise could.
Fortunately, modern medicine, technology and improvements in accessibility have helped many people work around their disability and live a fulfilling life. However, every disability and human being is different so what works for one person may not work for another so many people approach the world of service dogs because other available options haven't worked. Luckily for many of these individuals, a service dog to open doors or sleep under the table at work ready to respond to that next seizure- is exactly the solution they were needing.