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Service Dogs – Truly Man’s Best Friend

Service Dogs Take the Value of our favorite Pet to a World Beyond

Service dogs have lived with people for centuries – because the very first dogs came to us in service.

Very soon after the first wild canine came down from the woods to the tribal fire, dogs have been in service to mankind. Dogs have guarded our homes, protected our herds, and helped with hunting. And of course their role in simple companionship has never been denied.

Every one who has ever owned a dog knows what joy that sweet kiss or wag that greets you when you come home is worth.

We learned quickly that dogs could be trained to be service dogs to the blind. But in the last few hundred years dogs have developed every more new roles: as therapy dogs to the handicapped or impaired. Dogs have also expanded into new roles not ever thought of until recently – such as helping children learn to read. That is right – dogs are taught to rest quietly at the feet of children struggling to read out loud and their calming presence makes it easier for the children and smooths the process.

This Nugget explores the wonderful world of these dogs.

The first service dogs helped the blind

History of Service Dogs

Elizabeth Barrett Browning mentioned seeing eye dogs in her novel Aurora Leigh “The blind man walks wherever the dog pulls / And so I answered” (Book V., ll. 1028-9). Even before that, in medieval times there seemed to be some references to guide dogs for the blind.

Germany was the trailblazer in developing guide dogs for the blind during World War I to enhance the mobility of returning veterans who were blinded in combat. In the US, the Seeing Eye Institute in Nashville Tennessee was the first institute to train the dogs. (This institute has since relocated to Morristown, New Jersey.)

One of the founders of The Seeing Eye , Mr. Morris Frank trained with his German Shepherd Dog Buddy in Switzerland in 1928, and brought him back to the States. German Shepherds were the first dogs to be used in both the US and Britain. However, Labrador Retrievers are the prevalent dog used these days.

Since then institutes to serve the blind have sprung up across the nation to train thousands of dogs to help the blind.

Seeing Eye dogs for the blind were the first service dogs. In Britain the program was to help soldiers who had lost their sight due to WWI.

Read more about the British : Guide Dogs for the Blind

Prison Dogs – Prisoners Train Dogs to Help Vets with PTSD

An amazing program that helps everyone involved

I have watched this movie several times, every time with tears streaming down my face.

Gloria is a dog trainer with a special calling to help Veterans – especially those who have suffered post-traumatic stress disorder after being in combat.

For certain vets – just walking down the aisle in Target is a hellish experience because of the noise and the uncertainty.

Dogs can be trained to nudge them when they get fixated on something all the way to using the phone to call 911 if they have a seizure as a result of their brain injuries.

But this training doesn’t just help the Vets.

It helps the prisoners. For the prisoners who can make it successfully through the program they develop pride in themselves for completing something worthwhile. They have the joy of learning something different as well.

Plus a program like this brings prisoners together and that is rare in prison , which is a hostile, isolated place.

In this movie, you will follow the prisoners, the Vets and Gloria as they transform through this Prison Dogs program.

I highly recommend this movie.

Prison DogsPrison DogsPrison Dogs


The difference between service dogs and therapy dogs

A service dog is trained to do work or perform tasks for a person with a disability. Service dogs are protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) giving them public access rights.

A service animal is a dog as defined under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). A service dog has been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for an individual with a disability.

A therapy dog is trained to provide affection and comfort to people in hospitals, retirement homes, nursing homes, schools, hospices, disaster areas. Therapy dogs are not service animals and are not afforded the same privileges.

Therapy dogs are pets, with added benefits.

K9 Partners for Patriots
goes into great depth about the difference between service dogs and therapy dogs. But both are extremely valuable.

K9 Partners for Patriots is a wonderful charity which is devoted to ending veteran suicide with the help of rescue dogs.

There are Service Dogs that help with all kinds of Medical Needs

Seeing Eye Dogs were the first service dogs. They are trained to lead blind people through their surroundings safely, and they open up the world to them. Now there seems to be a new service dog every day.

There are Hearing Dogs for the Deaf., dogs that lead the hearing impaired in similar ways to Guide Dogs for the Blind. Dogs have sniffed out and detected cancers on people’s body.

Their amazing noses can tell the differences in the chemicals in diabetics bodies, and service dogs trained to help diabetics have alerted them that their blood sugars were becoming dangerously low or high. There are dogs that work in the chemotherapy suites to comfort the patients there.

Service Dogs have changed the lives of the medically impaired.

Good Dogs Tells Us of Dogs that Do all Kinds of Good

Healing of all Kinds

Good Dogs Doing Good: Lives Transformed by Man's Best FriendGood Dogs Doing Good: Lives Transformed by Man’s Best FriendGood Dogs Doing Good: Lives Transformed by Man's Best Friend


Published by the Healing Project, a non-profit organization that is bound to create a community of support for those with chronic or life-threatening illnesses.

All kinds of dogs are featured in this beautiful book: dogs to help the depressed, those with other chronic illnesses. Many heart warming stories.

Diabetic Alert Dog

Watch below for the thrilling story of the dogs who who save the lives of the children dependent on them. Diabetes is a life threatening disease that is not going away any time soon – I think we will see more of these diabetic alert dogs.

Dogs of All Kinds help with Service

For many service dog organizations, dogs are especially bred to have special characteristics that make them excellent candidates to be service dogs.

But there are other services that take rescue dogs and rehabilitate them to provide service as well.

Mutts to the rescue!

Canine Partners For Life Training Process

Through this video I learned about a great group in Pennsylvania, Canine Partners for Life.

This two year program keeps about 25 dogs from puppy-dom to be a true boon for a handicapped person.

BTW – like Prison Dogs these puppies also were partially raised by prisoners, although not as extensively as Prison Dogs.

These dogs are exposed to all kind of people and situations during their first year, including being out in a store or doctor’s office. They also gets lots of time to play and cuddle!

They learn all kinds of words that help them be more useful.

“Go pay ” which means to put the wallet to the counter so that if a person is on a wheelchair they can put it to
the salesperson.

The command “tug” can be useful when the dog learns to pull off a sock, then a glove or whatever the handicapped person needs.

Each of the commands the dogs learn come together to help them become a better service dog.

Seizure Alert Dogs Have an Uncanny ability to tell when their owner is going to have a seizure

Most amazingly to me, Seizure Alert Dogs actually help predict when their owners are going to have seizures, and then they protect them. Some epileptics have seizures several or many times a day, and owning a seizure alert dog allows them freedom to go about their day knowing that they will be protected if their disorder kicks in.

It is unbelievable to me that seizure alert dogs can help someone who suffers from epilepsy.

I once saw a report about these dogs where the trainer said that they often would be dogs who would be hyperalert and would drive you crazy.

I guess that just goes to show that their is a special place for every creature!

The video included here shows the special bond between a girl with severe seizure disorder and her service dog and how they create a rich life for each other.

Your Dog can become More Valuable as a Therapy Dog

Remember that your dog can gain in value to you and give to the world like becoming a therapy dog

The organization Teamworks has published a wonderful guide to help you with this.

Teamwork - A Dog Training Manual for People with Disabilities, Revised EditionTeamwork – A Dog Training Manual for People with Disabilities, Revised EditionTeamwork - A Dog Training Manual for People with Disabilities, Revised Edition


Therapy Dogs International is a volunteer service that provides a legitimate way for you to guide your dog through the process of becoming service, or therapy dog certified. Fido or Fidette will have to take a test to prove that he or she is fitting to be around people, especially the disabled.

There is a lot a dog has to learn before it can be a therapy dog.

It has to accept a friendly visitor. And he will have to do it around crutches, walkers and wheelchairs. She will have to sit politely for petting.

And allow himself to be groomed.

Putting your dog through the paces until she is a true therapy dog makes her a better citizen as well as a better pet for you.

Getting your Dog Certified

Be sure you get the real deal

Service dogs are allowed privileges that other dogs are not – such as being allowed into restaurants. The idea is that they are specially trained and a necessity for their owners. Unfortunately unscrupulous folks have taken advantage of that. I’m not mentioning names but if you went on line today you could get your dog “service dog certified” by agreeing that your dog is obedient – and paying several hundred dollars.

Similar to “stated income loans” – these certifications are probably pumped up and worthless. And there is a danger that it will become harder to get your dog service dog certified as this system is abused.

The truth of the matter is that training a dog to become a service dog is a commitment, and an honor for both the dog and the owner.

Outstanding True Story of a Dog who is Essential to the woman She Helps – A Children’s Story Everyone Can Enjoy

Ally’s Busy Day: The Story of a Service Dog

Ally's Busy Day: The Story of a Service DogAlly’s Busy Day: The Story of a Service DogAlly's Busy Day: The Story of a Service Dog


Some service dogs are not just dogs – they are angels. Such is the case with “Ally” – a black lab who was rescued from the animal shelter on the day that she was to be euthanized so that she could serve Maureen Pranghofer a woman who is both blind and a quadriplegic.

Maureen Pranghofer is handicapped – but she has not given up. She is a songwriter, speaker and now author of this great book. She is married, and has a rich life. And her life is made immeasurably better by a the service of Ally, who assists her constantly in the activities of daily living. And of course Ally’s life is made much better because of Ms Pranghofer.

Children – and adults – will learn empathy and awareness of what life is like for people with challenges, and they will learn how people can live as victors not victims, especially with the help of loyal service dogs. Ally was rescued, and then she ended up rescuing Maureen. I love that! That so often is the case with the dogs we love. This book is beautifully illustrated and at under ten dollars – this book is a bargain for kids and grownups alike.
Buy Now

Service Dogs can Never be Replaced

No Robot can Take the Place of Man’s Best Friend

I have no fear that artificial intelligence will replace service dogs – or any dogs. Nothing can replace the warmth of our favorite pets, and the uncanny ability of service dogs to know exactly what we need and help will not be substituted by any kind of machinery.

Leave a Comment


  1. Great page, lots of information, thanks

  2. Service Dogs are a miracle indeed. It is amazing to see what these precious pups can do to improve the lives of those with disabilities.
    My husband is blind and has a guide dog. We see every day the miracles that can be performed by a loving, smart, and well-trained dog.

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Meet The Author


Gypzeerose - aka Rose Jones - is a Mom, nerdy, fun loving traveller through life, currently living in the East Bay in the San Francisco Area.

She loves to write and blog, and has aspirations towards fiction.

She can be found ferociously packing boxes and packages as an eBay seller at http://stores.ebay.com/Gypzeeroses-Bargains-and-Treasures

In her spare time she is a nurse. :)

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