From a post I did on Facebook, that I felt deserved some space on the blog: We talk a lot about the amount of training we do daily, and the structure that is required to make sure these dogs continue to work and do their jobs. I get asked a lot if these dogs ever get to be “treated like pets like most peoples dogs?” , if they get to have “fun”, if they get time off, If service dog life is a bad life or a rough life for the dogs.
It’s a good question. And here is my answer. I volunteer my spare time photographing homeless animals at our local shelter for United Hope for Animals. And I get to see how some pets are treated. I see dogs that were pets come in with embedded collars, tied to a tree in the yard for years. Pets used as breeding tools, and then dumped because they couldn’t be used for that anymore. Pets that were dumped because they were too old, or too sick to be cared for anymore. Pets that were dumped because the family moved away and didn’t take their pets with them.
And while I know most of you on this page are animal lovers, and would never allow that to happen to your pets, I see it in my local shelter to the tune of thousands of animals per year.
So, what about our dogs? Truth be told, I tend to tear up a little when I think about how much a part of our lives these dogs are. Our dogs get walked and exercised daily. They get the best breakfast and dinner every single day. They are played with, loved on, and mentally engaged daily. They sleep in our house, in warmth and in our bedrooms, they are never left outside over night. They are groomed and bathed regularly. They are at the vets at the slightest hint of an issue. They have jobs, and believe it or not, dogs (especially the working/sporting breeds) LOVE jobs. When they do their job, they get treats and love and praise and affection like you’ve never seen. They swim and run and retrieve and do all those amazing things that labs love to do, and more often than most “pet” labs. And they spend more time with us than any “pet” ever would.
So I guess they answer is no, our dogs don’t really get treated like most people’s pets. They get something better. They are treated like family members. All pets should be so lucky