The following post was written by Laura Marie Schülke, who accompanied us as an intern for 6 weeks.
Dear reader, today’s post is all about the service dog. What is great to hear is these service dogs are a great idea. A service dog is categorised as an assistance dog. They are specially trained to meet the needs of their future owner. In many circumstances these dogs accompany people with physical or mental disabilities.
As I’m sure you are aware, the guide dog is the most well known type of assistance dog. They willingly help their owner with their everyday life and provide security, which has been lost through blindness. But above all the guide dog provides a higher quality of life for blind people by being able to move freely again. Alongside guide dogs there are also so-called ‘sign’- or ‘hearing dogs’. They show their owner through physical contact that the doorbell has rung, the alarm clock is buzzing, or the fire alarm has gone off. By doing this, these dogs provide essential help for hearing impaired or completely deaf people. Often hearing dogs even save lives with their job. A medical hearing dog helps people with diabetes or epilepsy. They can recognise signs of high- or low- blood sugar, or an oncoming epileptic episode, to then warn their owner before it occurs and preventing falls that would otherwise end in bruises or broken ribs and noses.
A service dog can assist with your lack of mobility by opening the door, turning on the light switch, or picking up objects from the ground. They can support you in so many ways and enable an independent life for their owner because they don’t always have to rely on relatives or a carer.
A study from 2010 shows that service dogs may not only have a positive effect on the owner coping with everyday life, but also on their quality of life. The study compared 10 owners of service dogs with a control group, who had a physical impairment, but didn’t have a service dog. Not only were the group with the service dogs considered to have better psychological health, but it was also obvious that the service dogs greatly influenced the owner’s mental state- in the positive sense! Service dog owners rate the burden of everyday activities much lower and their own capability higher than people who struggle without a dog with a disability.
So here’s all I have to say: today’s prize goes to all the service dogs out there!