Many people are aware of the actions that a service dog might do for a person who is blind, immobile, or deaf. By guiding, moving, and picking things up for their people these service animals allow that person a better quality of life. However, as was mentioned yesterday, the ADA recognized that disabilities are not always physical, they are sometimes mental. Also, some physical disabilities may not be visible, such as a person who cannot bend over because of debilitating back pain, but who otherwise appears “able”.
So what is it that a service dog can do?
Some of the more regular answers I’ve mentioned above. This also includes opening doors, turning on light switches, and retrieve phones or other important items. Some service dogs are also trained to call 911 in the case of emergencies on special K-9 phones.
Other tasks especially important for service dogs for people with mental illnesses can include any of the following depending on their person’s need.
Checking a room for intruders for a person with PTSD or another disorder which causes them to be especially wary.
Provide deep tissue contact for someone recovering from an anxiety or panic attack.
Bring a person to be aware of their surroundings when they “zone” because of anxiety or depression.
Warn a person of a coming panic episode or depressive period so they can be ready and prepared, or so they can take the steps to avoid.
Create a buffer between their person and the crowd around them so as to alleviate stress and anxiety.
Carry medical supplies and information for person.
Provide reminder for daily medications.
Provide physical and tactile stimulation to disrupt their person from sensory or emotional overload.
Reduce their persons Hyper-Vigilance by staying alert and aware of surroundings for them.
These are only some of the ways in which a service dog can help those in need, those whose quality of life would be worse in more ways than one without them.