I’m not going to lie. I have always wanted a service dog. I’m handicapped and I love dogs, so it seems like a winning situation to me. However, I have never been able to afford one.  One day I shall have a pup of my very own! But they will most likely just be a regular dog.

 Seriously though, service dogs are awesome. I have a friend, who is also disabled, and he has one. His dog can do all sorts of stuff! So I’m writing this in honor of these awesome “super heroes.” Let’s look at the golden retriever as a service dog.

Credit: www.explore.comCredit: www.explore.com

Imagine having a dog that could turn on lights, pick up dropped keys or open a door. Service dogs are partnered with adults with physical disabilities to assist with daily tasks and increase independence by reducing reliance on other people. A service dog can pull their partner in a manual wheelchair, push buttons for elevators or automatic doors, and even assist with business transactions by transferring money, receipts, and packages. I swear I didn’t know about the last one. I wonder how they do that.

A service dog not only assists with physical tasks, but also provides social support. During a two-week training session, participants learn how to effectively handle an assistance dog to maximize use of at least 40 commands.

Disabilities served include, but are not limited to, spinal cord injury, multiple sclerosis, spina bifida, arthritis and cerebral palsy. I have cerebral palsy! Can I get one?

To Receive a Service Dog:

Be at least 18 years old. If disabled due to injury, be one-year post-injury rehabilitation.

Request an application.

Find a friend or family member to be a training assistant.

Have a support system in place to facilitate a successful assistance dog partnership.

Apply. This process involves several steps designed to ensure success.

Once the application is accepted, attend a two-week training course. Though the amount of time that the course must be attended may vary upon what company you choose

After the training session and graduation ceremony, you will probably have to bring your dog to follow-up sessions with the company. They probably will just want to make sure that you are happy with your dog, that the dog is meeting your needs, and that the dog is being properly taken care of. Basically, they want to make sure that all is well.

Golden retrievers are a very popular choice for service dogs. Labrador retrievers are also very popular service breeds as well.

Want to know something else really cool? Some companies will let people raise the service dogs as puppies and help train them. So, whether you are in the market for a service dog or not, you can actually have a hand in training them.  Some companies also let people house a mama or daddy dog of future service puppies. It’s almost like when you volunteer at a shelter.

Service dogs are very useful. Have you ever had one? Do you know anyone that has had one. Tell us in the comments below.  

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