Assistance dogs are totally pawsome!
What can we say about dogs that we don’t already know? They are simply the best friend anyone can have and bring companionship to the many millions of us that are privileged enough to have one or more of them in our lives.
Dogs have a way of understanding us like no other animal can. We may not speak the same language, but over the centuries we have evolved together to form an unspoken dialogue that we both comprehend. It is because of this and their abundance of empathy that makes dogs the ultimate assistance animals.
We also know that dogs can dramatically change the lives of many people living with disabilities, many of which may be hidden.
Guide dogs, hearing dogs, disease detection dogs, dogs that can inform people with epilepsy that they are going to have a seizure in plenty of time for them to get to a safe space, these incredible canines are simply the best.
What Services do Assistance Dogs Provide?
Highly trained service animals work for their owners with physical or mental health disabilities. There are different types of training as there are different types of work that these special dogs provide. They assist their owners to ensure that they can go on with their routines and activities without any incidents or problems. Above all, assistance dogs must ensure their owner’s safety and health as it can become a life-or-death situation.
Dogs can predict panic attacks even before the attacks happen and they help ground their owners if they are in the middle of an attack. Some are even trained to facilitate deep pressure therapy where the dog will settle their body on the person’s chest to help calm them down.
Dogs have a calming and relaxing presence and even the ones that aren’t trained to be assistance dogs draw the same calming effect. A person’s heart rate and blood pressure lowers whenever they are around dogs and they can unleash happy hormones in a person, it’s a scientific fact.
Dogs alert your loved-one or other humans, and a well-trained medical assistance dog can let another human know there’s an emergency so that the matter can immediately be given attention. They can look for that person for help, or they can also be relied upon to find their owner’s phone so that he can call for help.
We’re all familiar with guide dogs, disability dogs and hearing assistance dogs, but less aware of dogs that assist with hidden disabilities such as epilepsy, autism and mental health issues.
Mental Health Assistance
Emotional support assistance dogs help people with mental health disabilities navigate through life and they provide tremendous benefits for their handlers. Caring for a dog requires the handler to get out of the house and forces them to interact with the outside world. The simple act of having to get out of bed and getting fresh air can reverse the symptoms of depression in people. They can also guide a disorientated owner, provide tactile stimulation for anxiety and panic attacks, identify hallucinations, search for people with PTSD who are hyper-vigilant and interrupt and redirect for people with OCD that may self-harm.
Dogs possess up to 300 million olfactory receptors in their noses, compared to about six million in humans, and the part of a dog's brain that is devoted to analysing smells is about 40 times greater than ours. Dogs also have something called neophilia, which means they are attracted to new and interesting odours.
Their sense of smell is many times more sensitive than even the most advanced man-made instrument and it’s powerful enough to detect substances at concentrations of one part per trillion—that’s a single drop of liquid in 20 Olympic-size swimming pools. With training, dogs detect human disease—cancer, diabetes, tuberculosis, malaria, and now Covid-19—from smell alone.