We've all heard people say they have a "service dog" or a "therapy dog" or even an "emotional support" dog. These titles sound like thy would be similar as far as what the dog's job might be, but they are actually all quite different.
A friend of mine who is not only a lover of all things dog, but a talented and gifted trainer recently wrote an article for a private Facebook page hosted by Paws Pet Resort. In the article Sami Jo explains the differences and fun aspects of working dogs and their jobs, and I wanted to share it with you guys. This is a copy of the article shared with her permission.
Recently I was speaking with a customer about the differences between "service dogs" and "therapy dogs." During this conversation, I realized people don't always know the unique and fun differences between these dogs. Below is some fun information regarding different working dogs!
Enjoy~Sami Jo Menning
*These are very simple descriptions of all the work these dogs perform and not an all-inclusive description*
SEARCH AND RESCUE DOGS:
These are dogs trained to help the public with any missing person. Whether alive or passed they are trained to tell their human where they are located. There are different organizations people can certify through. These dogs should be really good at problem-solving.
HRD - Human Remains Detection is dogs alerting on human remains. Gross right? But it actually is super beneficial for people who are missing more than a week or any type of scene where they need hints on the case. These dogs are trained to perform a final indication when they have smelt the scent of human remains.
Live Find (Area and Tracking) - There are two kinds here but practically a dog will get sent when they know the victim is probably alive. A kid stuck in a snowstorm, a guy missing for 24 hours or any time there might be a kid with a medical or mental illness that has wandered away. The dog is trained to bring their handler to the victim. The dog gets rewarded for finding the person.
Article Search - This is for dogs to help find clues where they indicate in any article that has a scent from a victim or fresh scent. A dog can tell the difference between old scent and new scent from a human touching an item.
These dogs are trained to help the public by providing comfort. These dogs should have good obedience and should be stable and confident around other dogs, people and places.
Organizations - There are many organizations you can go through. The most well known here locally is Therapy Dogs International. These dogs are certified to go into schools, hospitals, and places to offer therapy from just being around them. It is pretty cool to be apart of. Your dog has to have great obedience as well as demeanor to excel in this.
Disaster Relief - There are specific organizations that certify dogs to help with disaster relief. These dogs and their handlers travel where there is a big disaster that people may be staying in shelters for safety. This is a time a disaster relief dog will come. This is a different certification and test in itself.
EMOTIONAL SUPPORT ANIMALS:
These are animals that are there to offer emotional support. Sadly, it is something people take way advantage of to get free rent, hotel rooms, etc. They are for anyone who gets relief from their dogs instead of having to be on an alternative plan. These dogs do not get to have public access and there is no actual registered certification for any dog unless you were to get a note from a doctor.
These dogs are trained to perform specific tasks to help their handlers.
These dogs also do not have an actual certification. There is an ADA registration for the rights of Service Dogs. Most dogs that are true service dogs are bred to be service dogs. There are programs where they evaluate puppies from 4 weeks old to pick candidates for service dogs. They cannot be anxious, reactive, aggressive. They need to have the right temperament and the right drive to work! These dogs do have public access but should only be in public if they can behave.
Task Orientated - These service dogs are trained for people who cannot bend over, open the door, turn on the lights and struggle in their day to day life.
Mobility - These dogs are for people who might have medical issues that affect how they can walk, falling over unexpectedly or not having the strength to always hold them up. Not every dog can be this, there are actually charts on the weight of the person to be matched with a weight-fitted dog.
Medical Alert Dogs - These service dogs alert for diabetes, heart issues, panic attacks or severe health issues. There is a great guy in Texas who trains these dogs and I would love to show anyone what he can do.
Guide Dogs - Dogs who can lead people who are legally blind. These dogs have to be able to have some type of independence and disobedience. They need to be able to make the right call if you are telling them to 'heel' but there is a safety hazard. The dog should know to 'disobey' the command and to not put their handler in danger.
POLICE DOGS / MILITARY WORKING DOGS (MWD):
Really these and military dogs are a different breed. These dogs thrive off of work. The reward for them is to work. These dogs are also handed from handler to handler, there are many people that retire and their dog is still working so they will stay in the unit to be handed off to a different handler. These dogs are trained somewhere else and shipped to different units. A lot of them come from overseas. Most handlers have to attend a 2-3 week camp to become certified handlers WITH their dogs. The dogs already know how to do it, but the handler has to know, too!
Narcotics - Really this is just a type of detection. Many dogs are trained on more than one scent and some units who have many dogs will train their dog to just a few scents. To have a detection dog in the unit you have to meet standards of training and logging hours.
Apprehension - Police dogs are trained to bite dangerous suspects and hold them at the place. In many situations, they are the first ones to put their lives on the line and go in against an armed suspect to protect their human partner. That said, they must be stable dogs, with the ability to know when someone is a threat and to act solely on the command of their handlers.
These are used everywhere! If you can think of it, they probably already have a detection dog on it. They have started cancer detection dogs, hunting for truffles dogs, wildlife biology and of course law enforcement. Really it is endless what you can detect.
There are so many other types of working dogs. These are just popular ones you hear about lately.
Are you a fan of The Office? Say hello to Dwight! According to his humans he has a dry sense of humor if a dog can have one and he's "super chill." Dwight demonstrated that beautifully during his session. He also had three wardrobe changes and he rocked each and every one. :O)
Dwight can not hear, but that doesn't stop him from one of his favorite activities-watching tv. He's not shy and is always excited to meet other people. His mood changes when his humans are both with him, and he loves watching his dog mom work.
As far as hobbies go, Dwight is a leaf and stick collector. When he goes for a walk he always brings home a new stick and has them safely stored in a pile outside. (Take a guess what we used instead of noises to get his attention at the session. wink, wink)
We introduced Dwight to something new during his session...bubbles! And, oh my goodness he went for them with everything he had. (I know what the Easter bunny will be bringing Dwight next year!)
Dwight is not even a year old yet and he's eager to explore and learn everything he can. Enjoy the rest of the Fall season Dwight and I hope Winter is just a fun for you!
These three fur-balls are all heart and they bring so much joy and fun to their humans' lives. Don't be fooled though; what one dog doesn't think of the others will and they are involved in just as many hi-jinx as the next dog family. They are also so very loved.... and they know it. ;O)
During their session, Shiloh, Little & Moose showed off tricks, played with bubbles, ran through the leaves and even struck a pose every once in awhile.
It was obvious that these three love being around their humans, but they are also adventurous and ready for fun. Through it all, Moose was curious yet polite, Shilo was on alert for possible threats to the session (i.e. squirrels and other varmints), and Little never let on for one second that she wasn't in charge and running the show. And, did I mention hi-jinx?!
By the end of the session, we were all worn out. It's just another perk I offer for pet parents. ha!
As we were leaving we noticed a dog who was enjoying the park, but it was obvious that she forgot to bring her owner with her. So, while Brittany and I waited with the pups, Shelby took care to make sure that the dog was in safe hands, posted her on Sioux Falls Lost Pets Facebook page and we all crossed our fingers that her owner would be found. By the next morning I had a text from Shelby telling me that all was well. I soooo love dog people. :O)
What you do for one you need to do for the others. So, since we had so much fun with Tex in the water a couple of weeks ago, we made sure that his siblings got to have a great time, too.
This session was a little extra fun for me to go through the images because it included four very different personalities all in the same place. When trying to get one good family photo, no matter what the others were doing, Blu was ready. (Blu, you're so awesome.) If a duck flew over (and they did - several times), TEX was all business. ha! Lola just loved to smile and dash ahead wherever we were going, and Ray was a typical puppy who explored every inch of his surroundings (and looked cute of course).
There is lots of play time and lots of fun for these four, but when mom says, "look"... all eyes are on her.
We hiked, played with bubbles, watched ducks fly by, explored the "grassy jungle" and some, well, couldn't help themself. (Yes, they are adorable, but look at Tex!)
I always have a great time photographing sessions, and even though it's a bit more work with multiple dogs it's always that much more fun. Thank you for "that much more fun" you guys. :O)
This was a session I was really looking forward to! I love working dogs and have wanted to photograph one "at work" for a long time now. When Sami told me that she wanted to do a session, BUT she wanted me to photograph her dog hunting, I couldn't say yes fast enough.
Tex is a duck hunter so that meant we were going to be in the water. I borrowed some waders (thanks Greg!) and they only leaked on one side! (Thanks, Greg.) It didn't matter because I was having as much fun as Tex was!
Tex did some training while we were out there, too and I learned things like, one- how he learns to follow signals that lead him to where his owner wants him to go, and two, what a dog looks like when he's peeing in the water. ha!
Seriously though, this dog can be the biggest muppet out there, but when he's working he's all business. Look at that determination!
Tex is a hard worker and you can see the pride in him when he knows he's done well. It's quite humbling to watch a dog who is so in tune with his owner both as a friend and as a partner. The hard work put in by both does not go un-noticed, and it is very, very cool to witness.
** No ducks were harmed in the making of this session. ;O)
There are several ways in which we bring a pet into our family. Some purchase a puppy from a breeder, or buy from someone who's advertising that their dog has had a litter. Others get their pet by adopting from a shelter, a rescue or even from a flyer on a bulletin board. Even though discussions can get heated over how we obtain our pets, I really do feel like there is no right or wrong way.
For me, the decision to "shop" or "adopt" is actually determined by what my reason was for getting a new pet in the first place. If I were looking for a dog for a specific purpose like training a show dog, a dog for search and rescue, or a hunting dog, then I would probably look at reputable breeders for those specifications. If I were looking for a companion to hang out with at home and didn't have anything specific that I wanted from the dog except to love on and to be part of the family, then I would most likely adopt. This is not to say that adopted dogs can't be great hunting, service, or even show dogs. It's just more plausible if those dogs were raised and trained to perform from the very beginning. Likewise, this is not to say that all dogs from a breeder are going to meet your expectations either. If you're thinking about a breeder you need to do your research on the breed you're considering AND you need to research your breeder. There are some very responsible breeders, but like in every industry there are also those who do not exactly meet the standards that they represent.
Every dog that has joined our family has been acquired differently from the others. Our first dog I found in the newspaper. Bangle was half boxer and half Siberian husky. My reason for getting her was companionship as I was newly married to an Air Force pilot who was gone a lot. (Remember paper scrapbooking? They said it was perfectly ok to cut up your pictures! eek!)
The next two were litter mates that Santa got from a box on a sidewalk in the neighborhood. He brought them to our twin boys because he wanted them each to have a puppy of their own. (I do NOT recommend this type of reasoning/justification/insanity for getting multiple dogs at once!) Christmas Carol and Sandman were pointers with more energy than my 3 boys combined!
After a few years of having reptiles for pets my boys started asking for a dog again. It was then that I actually did some research and was able to at least settled on a breed that I thought would be good for our active family and military life. Zoe was a border collie that we got from a working farm in the Shenandoah Valley. Her parents were registered dogs and they were responsible for the cattle on the farm. As Zoe grew she did not disappoint as she spent her whole life keeping track of our kids as well as the school kids in the back field once we moved to our home in Sioux Falls.
Hermes (little white rat dog) was a gift to my youngest when his life was turned inside out as his older brothers and all their friends left for collage (and his dad deployed) leaving an always full house with just the two of us. Looking only for companionship, I found Hermes online from a goggle search for a small dog. He was and always has been a perfect fit in our home.
Dash was not planned. (I guess you could say he was a happy accident. ha!) A woman who saw Hermes on a weekly basis at doggie day care emailed me a Craig's List link and said, "I thought of you and Hermes when I saw this little guy." (That's how all great love stories start out, right?) I classify Dash as a hand-me-down dog as we are his 4th (and forever) home.
It seems to be socially acceptable these days to criticize others for how they obtained their pet. I think people lose site of the dog when they do this. In order to find the right pet for our family, our lifestyle, our needs, and our personality, we need to do some research before we make them a part of our life. Research breeds and research breeders. It's only fair to the animal after all as they really don't get much of a say in the matter.
Faust is a strong, lean German short hair. He is very handsome and confident, quite mellow, and like a lot of dogs showed me that he can also be a little derpy, too. Picture him with his ears back, nose in the air looking at you with a huge grin on his face (and maybe a bit of slobber). What's not to love??!!! What he didn't show me was his age. He's a vibrant nine year old dog who's distinguished white face is the only thing that gives it away.
Faust participates in obedience competition (I swear I didn't even know this was a thing, but how cool!), but his real love is "the hunt" part of hunting. He loves to search out the birds! Actually, I don't think it even has to be a bird. At one point during his session he became very alert and drug his dog mom off across a trail. It was a mouse. I never saw it, but Faust did and he was determined to sniff it out. I feel like if the grass had been mowed that little mouse might not have fared as well.
If his dog mom is around, then you'll find Faust with her. She is his person and they love to spend time together. Besides hunting and competitions they like to hike, run, and dabble in agility. If the weather's bad he'll even hop on the treadmill with mom.
Faust was a sport letting me drag him to different sections of different parks trying to avoid the still flooded areas around town. He really liked the tall grasses best I think. It was the end of the day, but he mustered up plenty of energy to run in and out of them. (I was pooped just watching him at this point. ha!)
In the end he relaxed a bit with mom and we got a couple of very sweet silhouettes. I wish you lots of fun adventures with your dog mom, Faust. She's a very lucky lady.
Does your dog love the water? Looking for something fun, challenging, and (dare I say) cool? When summer hits and the temperature starts to rise dock diving might be just the thing for you and your dog.
Dock diving is not a sport that you'll find in the Olympics (but, never say never). The idea is this... Your dog sits at the back of the dock and waits for you to give your command and throw his favorite toy out into the pool. When he hears the command he runs and dives off of the dock to catch his toy in mid air before it hits the water. The idea is to have the longest jump. It can be 2 feet or 30 feet, but all the dogs agree that no matter what, you're always a winner if you catch the toy.
Henry, Max, and Linus are all beginners and they are very keen on making sure that their favorite toy doesn't get lost in this new game.
Otis was a fast learner during his class. He loved the praise for simply getting in the water to leaping off the dock. It was all the same to him and he was eager to please his family.
Then there is something we call style. And, guess what? They all have it (and they all own it!)... and it is soooo much fun to watch!
If you think this might be a sport that you and your dog would like to do together, Paws Pet Resort now offers dock diving classes. Beginners can learn starting with the basics, and seasoned divers can utilize Open Jump days helping their handlers perfect their toss and getting in sync. If you just want to see if your dog might enjoy the sport, there are Try It Days available as well as one on one classes.
Get out there and enjoy the summer with your dog. And, if you feel like you need to cool off (or if you're just feeling like a cool cat) you might give dock diving a try. ;O)
Last week I did something a little out of my comfort zone. I went to Animal Image Makers, the first ever photography conference for pet photographers. What part of that scared me? I did it alone.
As much as I may come across as an extrovert, I'm really quite reserved about putting myself out there without the support of a like minded friend by my side. I like to blend in and be in a position where I won't be noticed. (This is probably one of the reasons I love candid style photography. Those of you who aren't crazy about being in pictures, I get it.) Since I know this about myself, I signed up for the conference right away so I couldn't talk myself out of it.
The 4 day conference was so much fun. It was jam packed with classes from national and international pet photographers and I was soaking it all in learning tips and tricks from each and every one of them.
Is that not the cutest pin??!!!
Besides instructors and speakers, this conference also included an image competition. It was not accredited, but it was a great introduction for people like me who have never entered a competition. I have a friend who is a fabulous photographer and an amazing image maker who is always telling me how much you learn from entering competitions. Dana Rose, of Rose Design Fine Art Portraiture has won top awards for her images and she pushed me until I agreed to enter. (Thanks, Dana.)
I won't bore you with the details, but one of the 3 images that I entered did quite well. It received the 3rd highest score (out of 68 entries) in it's category and out of 484 entries total for the competition, my image score was 21st. It was both thrilling and humbling. The image was this one... The Mountains Are Calling. Say hello to Birdie!
The best part of the whole thing was the people I met at the conference. Soooo many pet photographers, so little time. ;O) Will I continue to enter print competition? Probably not. I realized that I'm not willing to change my style of photography to that which would make good competition images. For instance, this image of Blu was not in the running because, well, her unmentionables are mentionable here. ha!
This "pose" and the look of joy on her face is what makes this image totally Blu! The personalities that shine through the images that I get for my clients are why I do what I do. So, as much as I LOVE looking at the amazing images in competition, I think I will stick to the stands as a viewer and supporter of others. ;O)
If you have the opportunity to better your craft, (be it photography, painting, or any of the arts) even if it means going outside of your comfort zone, don't let those little nagging fears stop you. You will learn and you will make wonderful friends with people who share your passion. One of the ladies at the conference said it perfectly,
The difference between online learning and in person
When I first saw Max all I could think was, wow, what a gorgeous dog! But, it didn't take but a few minutes to see that Max is just as beautiful on the inside as he is on the outside. Max adores his dog mom and dad, and he's quite high on their list of friends to hang out with, too.
Max is not shy when it comes to the camera and he was quite happy to show me how much he loves being outdoors. Running, jumping logs, and fetching were his favorites. But, honestly, I think he would be thrilled doing anything as long as it involves being with his humans.
Max played the whole session, stopping every once in awhile to pose. THAT'S when I saw the oh so handsome modeling side of him. (There might be good money in this one day, Max. Just sayin'.)
Yes, Max is a gorgeous dog, (and honestly, I don't think he has a clue how handsome he is), but you can tell when you're around Max that he knows he's a part of a team, a tribe, a family. It's a great feeling to know you belong, and I don't think there is any doubt that Max feels the love.
Enjoy the rest of the snow season with your family, Max!