September is National Service Dog month and while we admire working dogs and the humans they are partnered with, it’s important to remember that these are service dogs, who are actively providing a service to their humans and shouldn’t be treated as pets.
There are various kinds of service dogs, the one’s we all saw sniffing out the wreckage after the tragedy of 9/11 and the one’s we see at our local stores in our neighborhoods on a regular basis.
These dogs are in service to the humans and have been specially trained for a variety of services. Some serve as the eyes for their humans, helping them navigate through obstacles or retrieve items that were dropped, and keep them from danger. Some have been trained as their humans ears, to detect alarms, microwaves, sirens and even their owners name. Others have been trained to detect seizures and can prevent their owners from being harmed during a seizure by alerting help, getting the human to safety or using their own body to keep the human from harming themselves.
Although all service dogs are highly trained and certified to be in their service, even dogs can have a bad day. The distraction of approaching humans giving them attention could distract them from the task at hand, putting their human in danger.
If you doubt the amount of focus it takes for an animal to perform service in public, take your dog to the pet store and ask him to “sit” or perform another simple obedience command. Now imagine how hard it is for a dog with such a serious job to focus with all the distractions! Respect working dogs, and their humans and don’t be a distraction for the dog or a potential danger for the human.