Service Dogs: Their Roles and Etiquette (and Our Service Dog, Cooper)

Cooper the Service Dog

Written by Andrea Gatley

Thursday, June 01, 2023

Service dogs are an extraordinary testament to the bond between humans and animals. They play essential roles in assisting people with various disabilities, providing invaluable aid in daily tasks, ensuring safety, and offering emotional support.

Service dogs are not pets; they are working animals trained to perform specific tasks that their handlers cannot do due to a disability. These tasks range from guiding visually impaired individuals, alerting people who are deaf or hard of hearing, pulling a wheelchair, interrupting self-harming behavior, reminding a person to take their medicines, or even alerting them to impending seizures.

As we delve into the world of service dogs, it’s also vital to understand the etiquette surrounding these exceptional animals:

  1. Do Not Distract: It’s crucial not to distract a service dog while they’re working. This includes petting, calling out, or offering food. Any distraction can prevent them from performing their duties and could potentially put their handler in danger.
  2. Do Not Ask Personal Questions: Asking someone why they need a service dog can be intrusive. It’s their private medical information that they’re not obliged to share.
  3. Do Not Assume: Not all disabilities are visible. Just because someone doesn’t “appear” to have a disability doesn’t mean they don’t need a service dog.
  4. Respect the Vest: If a dog is wearing a service vest or has other identifying markings like a leash wrap, it means they’re on duty. Even if they’re resting, they’re still working and should not be disturbed.

One of the gravest missteps is faking a pet as a service dog. It’s not only unethical but also illegal in many places. Fake service dogs can be disruptive or even aggressive, which undermines the legitimacy of genuine service animals and can lead to increased scrutiny and discrimination against those who genuinely need these animals for support.

Let’s now share a heartwarming story about our own service dog – Cooper.

Cooper, a lovable Standard Poodle mix, is a valued member of the DogDogDog family. Andrea Gatley, our founder, relies on Cooper for mobility tasks and seizure alerts. His keen perception, training, and innate sensitivity make him an invaluable companion, providing Andrea with an enhanced sense of independence and security in her daily life. You’ll hear more about him in the future!

Cooper’s dedication to Andrea mirrors the commitment of service dogs all over the world. These incredible animals devote their lives to assisting their handlers, making everyday tasks easier, and ensuring their safety.

Understanding the roles of service dogs and treating them with the respect they deserve is a step towards creating a more inclusive and understanding society. Let’s appreciate these extraordinary animals and the invaluable services they provide, and let’s remember to honor their dedication by following the proper etiquette.

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