There was a time when we thought of service dogs as those trained to lead the blind or visually impaired safely on roadways and through unfamiliar territory. However, in recent years the scope of duties these amazing animals are trained to carry out has radically increased. Now there are ‘seeing dogs,’ ‘hearing dogs,’ ‘therapy dogs,’ ‘emotional therapy dogs,’ and even ‘companion dogs.’ With the issues that many seniors face, service dogs for seniors can actually be trained to carry out a multitude of tasks but it takes a special breed of dog to do that.
Royalty free photo
Challenges Seniors Face
As we get older, many of our senses begin to go. It seems as though our sight is the first to suffer and after that it is all downhill. Next, we begin noticing that we can’t hear people as we once could. The kids are all grown with families of their own. Perhaps we have lost a spouse or significant other which leaves us totally alone in a world that is becoming more and more alien by the day. There is no need to suffer in isolation as there are service dogs for seniors that can step in to literally save the day.
If you are looking for a service dog but have never had to care for one, you may be a bit overwhelmed at first. Many websites have been set up to help you understand what you need to know about specific breeds and how to care for them. Pet Care Facts is a wonderful resource when looking for tips and advice on caring for your new friend. You can find advice on breeds as well as on nutrition and even on recognising certain illnesses. There is nothing to be afraid of with such a wealth of knowledge at your fingertips – the Internet.
Finding a Dog that Can Master Several Duties – Retrievers
If you find that you need visual assistance as well as hearing assistance, there are dogs with enough natural intelligence to do both tasks. The ‘usual’ choice is a Retriever, a Golden or a Lab, because they are gentle, people-friendly and easily trained. Believe it or not, one dog can be trained to aid you when you have both vision and hearing problems. The training may take longer than the typical six months, but it is well worth the wait.
As the name implies, Retrievers are known for their ability to fetch since they were originally hunting dogs. This type of breed cannot be aggressive as they would shred the prey before getting it back to their master. For those who don’t move as quickly or painlessly as they once did, a Retriever can be trained to fetch certain items so that it isn’t necessary to get up and down from the chair.
Finding the Right Size Dog
For some seniors, a Retriever may be a bit too large. Although they are generally quite docile, they can be a bit big for a senior living in a small apartment or condo. If the dog is meant solely as a companion dog to provide company when living alone, smaller breeds can suffice. Poodles, Shih Tzu’s and Scotties are all small, but some may be a bit too feisty for a senior to handle. If at all possible, it is better to find a medium size dog as they are more apt to be laid-back.
The point is, dogs are much more intelligent than we give them credit for so it only takes finding the right breed that can peacefully coexist with you. Size and level of energy are probably the two most important factors you will need to consider, but once you’ve found the right dog you have a friend and companion to guide you and comfort you in ways you won’t believe. Being a senior isn’t all bad once you’ve found a trusted friend.