While dogs primarily serve as family pets and live relatively pampered lives; where all they need to do is to eat, sleep and be lovable, many dogs have much more demanding functions, and are called upon to work much of the time. Service dogs are those that perform as seeing eye or hearing ear dogs, and other similar functions. They are vital in providing a sense of normalcy to people with disabilities, they help such people be productive citizens.
Demand for such dogs is high, because it is so, those who wish to obtain the services of such a dog need to be thoroughly evaluated to determine if they really require one. If a person is deemed in need to a service dog, then he or she is placed on a wait list. Depending on a person ability of inability to pay, the dog will either be free of charge, or paid for.
Service dogs are pre-trained, so should one be lucky enough to obtain a dog, the next step is training the person to work with the dog. This process typically takes between 6 to 8 weeks, but it can take less or more time, the determination of when a dog and a disabled person are ready, is made by a professional trainer.
Service dogs are selected as puppies, and it is as puppies that they being training as well. The training lasts for at least a year, and is quite intensive. The dogs learn many different commands from basics like sit and stay to learning how to cross the street safely. As they progress though different levels of difficulty, their demeanor and aptitude are evaluated and re-evaluated. If a dog is deemed sub-standard, it is put up for adoption. Seeing eye dogs are trained to walk on sidewalks, cross the street, get around different obstacles, fetch items and many other things that regular people simply take for granted. Dogs for those with impaired hearing, are taught to recognize knocks at doors, ringing phones, and other indicators of danger. The dogs are trained to alert their owners in such situations, and to even show them the problem.
Trainers are mostly volunteers, successful service dogs are often used for breeding purposes to preserve whatever traits they have that made them excel. Service dogs are protected by law, they are allowed in all public establishments with very few exceptions. Such dogs can be identified by a special vest which is as much to alert people that the owner may need special attention as a way of identifying the dogs function.There are even service dogs that can assist those who have trouble getting around. They help people get in and out of wheelchairs and do many things you’d never imagine dogs can be taught to do.