If you ever come across a Service Dog without a person barking for attention, chances are someone is in trouble.
For people who find themselves in everyday dangerous situations due to a disability, dogs can be specially trained to perform amazing tasks. Take this veteran who suffers from PTSD and seizures. Major, a Labrador retriever pitbull mix, is trained to retrieve his handler’s phone and call 911. When his owner had a seizure and needed medical intervention, Major pulled the phone from his handler’s pocket and pawed at it until triggering the emergency dial out. Dispatch was able to hear the seizure in the background and send help.
In addition to barking for help, many Veterans say their Service Dogs save their lives every day.
Dogs make a huge impact by helping Veterans adjust to civilian life and being there throughout episodes of depression. Organizations like this one pair Veterans who suffer from PTSD with individually trained rescue dogs that can support each Veteran’s specific needs.
But it’s not just Veterans who can benefit from these types of Service Animals.
For children with special needs such as autism, a Service Dog may be trained to alert a family member in another room in the event the child needs assistance. This same type of service may also be applied for people with chronic illnesses who can’t be left alone. In these types of cases, the Service Dog performs the life-saving task of seeking help when the handler cannot do so themselves.
Even a dog that is not trained to provide a specific service may bark for attention if they sense their handler is in danger.
In one story, a pet Pit Bull found help from a neighbor when his owner passed out on the front porch. In another example, when a Golden Retriever’s owner, Bob, slipped and broke his collarbone, the dog lay with Bob all night to keep him warm and barked for nearly 24 hours. Finally, a neighbor heard the cries and called for medical assistance.
Of course, these are examples of pets going above and beyond for the love of their owner. Service Animals that are depended on every day undergo hundreds of hours of training that can cost thousands of dollars. Organizations like Assistance Dogs International can help find a program that is right for each and every need.
In cases where the Service Animal’s job is to seek help, it’s everyone’s job to listen and respond. So if you ever hear a solo dog barking for your attention or hear distant barking for too long, lean in and determine if you need to intervene – it could save a life.