September is National Service Dog Month! In 2008, inspired by the guide dogs he had seen in his travels, Dick Van Patten championed legislation to make September National Guide Dog Month. As the celebration expanded to include all service dogs, the name was changed to honor, raise awareness and show appreciation for the extraordinary work these dogs do to make millions of lives better. Service Dogs transform the lives of their human partners with debilitating physical and mental disabilities by serving as their companions, helpers, aides, best friends and family members.

We want to honor and give thanks to all the service dogs, especially the service dogs that Highland Canine has placed with families throughout the years .  The following service dogs represent some of the amazing jobs these dogs can perform.

Autism Assistance Service Dog Peach

Peach, a labradoodle,  has been trained to perform different tasks to be able to help and protect her young child who has autism.  One of the tasks is called emergency down.  When Peach hears the command, she will immediately drop into a down position and act as an anchor to keep Mariano from running away, a common symptom of autism in children.  Peach can also perform deep pressure therapy, tethering and search and rescue trailing. Autism assistance service dogs provide a certain level of comfort that can often improve the child’s ability to sleep throughout the night. Peach’s boy used to sleep in his parents’ bed or his parents slept in his bed. Now Peach sleeps with Mariano and Mariano has been sleeping in his own bed throughout the night.  Mariano also has difficulty communicating with others. Now, he uses Peach to practice his communication skills by talking to her.

Mobility Service Dog Lelo

Lelo is a Labradoodle living in Puerto Rico. Lelo offers assistance with the everyday challenges that her handler faces such as opening doors, turning on light switches, retrieving items that may be out of reach and much more. Her handler, Gabriela, is a student in the Department of Business Administration at the University of Puerto Rico.  She completed a bachelor’s degree in accounting this year after overcoming multiple health challenges. Thanks to Lelo, Gabriella gained greater mobility and independence during her time at college.

Stability Assistance Service Dog Blaze

Retrieval task by stability assistance service dog

Blaze, a Standard Poodle/Greater Swiss Mountain Dog, is trained to retrieve a specific bag that contains his handler’s prosthetic leg.  Having Blaze perform this  task helps his handler to prevent further injury to his other leg. Blaze also retrieves dropped items when his handler is having difficulty bending and reaching to get the items. He  is  also trained to offer a sturdy platform for bracing for his handler when transitioning from the floor to an upright position. Service dog Blaze has helped his handler navigate challenges of high school by giving him confidence in his physical and social development .

Seizure Alert Service Dog Lacy Lou

Lacy Lou is a Labradoodle trained to give an alert when her handler is having a seizure. Lacy Lou alerts to the seizure by barking until someone comes to investigate.  Lacy Lou’s handler is an 8 year old girl who starts her seizures by gagging. In just a short period of time of being with her handler, Lacy Lou  started alerting to the gagging cue. Her mother told us she now feels comfortable allowing her young girl to play in another room or take a bath without supervision because she knows that Lacy Lou will alert if there is a seizure.  Once again, an individual gains independence with the help of a service dog!

Hearing Assistance Service Dog Sailor

Sailor, an English Setter, is trained to alert his owner to very specific, important sounds. As an individual with a hearing impairment, being at home alone could turn dangerous if she could not hear the smoke alarm go off. Likewise, it was important for her to be able to hear her text tone and a knock at the door. Sailor offered his assistance by alerting her whenever one of these sounds were heard. By leading her to the source of the sound, she could determine what had made the sound and which action she should now take. In public, he also shows awareness when cars are approaching, such as in a parking lot, allowing his owner to then safely move to the side. Sailor’s assistance has greatly improved the lifestyle and independence of his owner.

National Service Dog Month is a time to celebrate these amazing dogs and all they do for their owners. From tracking a lost child with autism to picking up on an oncoming seizure, dogs really can do it all. And in service of the owners they love! How will you show appreciation for service dogs this month?

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