A ‘Service Dog’ Is… What Exactly?

It used to be simple. Service dogs helped blind people – to find their way around. Then came service dogs for deaf people – to alert them to noises. Then came service dogs for epilepsy, diabetes, even Alzheimers.

These days it feels like a week doesn’t pass without another medical usage being discovered for service dogs of one sort or another. Anxiety, depression, aren’t we all depressed? Just ask any psychologist and they will tell you! Maybe we all qualify for a government-funded service dog. And for those of us who already own dogs (and pay for them ourselves, thank you very much) it’s starting to feel like we are missing the gravy train.

I don’t mean to sound dismissive, after all dogs offer tremendous benefits to improve human health. I just feel that if the government is paying for a dog, it should be a dog that does something – something special. Like walks you across the road, or calls Fire brigade on command,or fetches your slippers – something! Because otherwise I will suspect that all you have is a boring old dog, just like mine. Except you get your dog food for free and I don’t. After all, aren’t all dogs do us a great service? So maybe they should be all called ‘service dogs’. Which is great, just get your dog food yourself and don’t make me, the taxpayer to pay for it. Thank you and have a nice day.

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About Dr Vadim Chelom

Dr Vadim Chelom is a Registered Veterinarian, a writer and an educator

One comment

  1. It might be different where you live, but here you either pay for your own dog or get on a list of an organization that trains the dogs for specific disibility. My understanding is you are responsible for your dogs care. I think some vets will discount or comp check ups or shots but not all.

    Service dogs are growing in number as the public learns about how capable and fantastic some dogs are in their ability to be trained and help those in need. In fact some dogs are just naturals! It wasn’t until I started training a service dog for someone else and studying all about them that I realized that one of my Yorkies who had a very annoying habit of obnoxiously getting in my face at random times and relentlessly insisting on coming back no matter how many times I told her to go, pushed her away, yelled at her that she was trying to tell me my blood sugar was too low. After reading about sugar dogs and different signals they give, I tried an experiment. Everytime she did her thing, I went and tested my blood and sure enough it was very low. She could tell before I got the physical symptoms. I felt so bad for all the times she tried to tell me but I didn’t understand.

    Let’s face it, dogs are marvelous creatures. If they can enhance someones life by helping or warning the disabled, then they should be embraced. As for the government picking up all their expenses, I’m not too sure about that. Dogs should be with those who love and appreciate them. Government giving out dogs and paying all expenses could lead to placement of a dog with someone who doesn’t give back that respect and love. Yes they are working dogs, but should be placed with someone who takes some responsibility and care for them.

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