I met a very interesting dog and owner one day. I was doing errands in a nearby town when I saw a large dog with a SERVICE DOG jacket on. I glanced at the owner and could see that he wasn’t blind. When I heard him chatting with someone a little later, I knew he wasn’t deaf either! So when that conversation ended and the dog and man remained in the area, I went over and spoke with him. I told him about this website and my fascination with all aspects of dog training, and that I was curious about what his dog was trained to do.
Of course I didn’t say “What problem causes you to need a service dog?” as that is none of my business! But it more or less came out in the conversation that the human is stressed by many aspects of life in public. (He may be a veteran of one of our recent wars, I don’t know. His story made me think of Until Tuesday: A Wounded Warrior and the Golden Retriever Who Saved Him, a compelling book I read recently. )
This guy said that the dog has learned to notice when he is becoming anxious or tense, and that the dog is attentive and close to him at those times. He and a dog trainer in a nearby city trained the dog together there.
“It was quite simple,” he said. “We just took the dog with us to all the places I would have to go, onto buses and so forth. The trainer did some of the training and showed the dog what to do if I became tense.”
“He’s a beautiful dog,” I said. “Thanks for telling me.” The bond between the man and the dog was evident, and the dog was very relaxed. They went off, leaving me to reflect yet again on the many ways that dogs help us humans.