Knowledge is the key to understanding each other in this world. It is very easy to misjudge based on our own understanding of the world as we see it. This happens all the time, occasionally without us even knowing it. Service dogs, therapy, and emotional support dogs may look like the family pet you grew up with, but it’s important to know they are not.
You may know not to approach a dog with an orange vest on aiding a blind person, but did you know that there are more types of helpful K-9s than just that? Guiding us through the city is beyond helpful for humans without sight, but what about those of us needing help that’s not so obvious?
Service dogs help their owners with vision problems, mental illnesses, seizures, and even diabetes. They mostly aid humans with physical issues, however, therapy dogs also specialize in helping to comfort people on a more emotional level. Their humans might be in hospice, disaster areas, retirement homes, hospitals, nursing homes, or have other special needs. Emotional support dogs help in a therapeutic way, mostly through companionship and a calming presence. They can often help people who suffer from anxiety or other similar diagnoses.
There are many certificates and legal papers you can obtain and often need for a dog to become more than just a pet. For those of us without a service or therapy dog, it’s important to be understanding. If you see someone on a plane or bus or even in a restaurant with a well-behaved dog be respectful, they may be there to help their owner by simply being next to their side. Remember, you may not need help getting out of bed in the morning, but for some of us, a furry companion is the key to living a normal life.
+ Colin Carlton