September is National Service Dog Month! Our canine companions help us in a variety of ways. Fido has assisted us with hunting, search and rescue, and protection, to name just a few of his jobs. However, when it comes to working pups, service dogs may very well be the best of the best. Read on as a local Apple Valley, MN vet puts these amazing pooches in the Spotlight.
Fido’s official history starts in 1788, when a blind Viennese man taught his Spitz to assist him. Then after WWI, a man named Johann Wilhelm Klein began training dogs to help veterans who had been blinded by mustard gas. However, our canine companions have been assisting us for much longer than that. Records of dogs helping people with disabilities date back to ancient Rome!
According to the Americans with Disabilities Act, a service dog is a pooch that has been specifically trained to perform certain tasks for people with disabilities. Service dogs come in all shapes and sizes, but the breeds most often found working in this sector include Labradors, Golden Retrievers, German Shepherds, Poodles, Boxers, and Border Collies. These Very Good Boys may work in many fields, including allergy detection, autism service, diabetic alerts, guide dogs, and mobility assistance.
The first official American service dog was Stubby. The cute stray was hanging around the areas where new recruits were training. He won the hearts of the enlisted men, particularly Robert Conroy, who taught the pooch to stand up on his hind legs to salute. This proved to be quite useful, as the recruits snuck the dog out with them on the (first) USS Minnesota. When Stubby was found by the CO, the pooch immediately saluted … thus earning himself a reprieve. The dog definitely pulled his weight, eventually earning three service stripes for warning soldiers of incoming gas and artillery shells.
This ‘pawesome’ awareness event started back in 2008. Actor Dick Van Patten spearheaded the celebration: he wanted to honor and recognize the dogs that go above and beyond to help their humans. Today, there are over 500,000 service dogs here in America, according to data from Share America.
As your local Apple Valley, MN pet clinic, we are dedicated to providing top-notch veterinary care. Please feel free to contact us anytime!