• By Laura Lynn O’Nan Education Coordinator

Working like a dog

Many dog owners can attest to their dogs being as important to them as a member of their family. Often times we say they enrich our lives in ways that people could never do. For some people, dogs provide more than just companionship, they provide an alert to potential trouble coming, an extra hand for everyday tasks or a calming, loving touch to those dealing with devastating circumstances. When it comes to dogs with specific jobs, they truly do change the lives of their owners in ways that those who don’t rely on a dog may never truly understand.

Working dogs take on many roles, the best-known being guide dogs for the visually impaired. They can also assist the hearing impaired or alert owners to an oncoming seizure or even a drop in blood sugar. They may aid the mentally or physically challenged owners with a whole range of tasks. And therapy dogs are trained to give comfort and affection to people in hospitals and long-term care facilities, as well as in disaster areas after traumatic events.

Not only are dogs given jobs to personally aid in everyday life tasks, they are also given jobs to aid our military and our police forces. With a nose that can detect scents 100,000 times better than a human, they have the ability to be trained to detect specific drugs, explosives, people, food and much more. They can also reach speeds over 30 miles per hour in as little as six strides, which allows dogs to be trained to chase down suspects to aid in detaining them. These dogs are so important to their partners that they are as respected as any other member of the department.

How do you recognize a dog who is on the clock? Working dogs are very well behaved and are always in tune with their handler, waiting for the next command or sign. Most dogs that are on the job wear a vest displaying their title and identification tags. However, some do not and their job for their owner may not be visible. It’s always a good idea to respect a handler and their dog by asking before petting.

Most dogs on the job should not be distracted while working or they could miss a vital cue or command to do their job properly.

Take the time this week to show some appreciation to your pooch even if they haven’t been trained for a specific job. Each of our pups brings so much joy into our lives through their dedication to providing unconditional love and companionship to each of us. Are you looking for the perfect companion? We have several to choose from! Please stop by the Adoption Center and visit with all our adoptable pets. Feel free to contact us for more information at 859-873-5491 or manager@woodfordhumane.org.

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