The History of Assistance Dogs
|A woman is pulling at two large ropes while grimacing.|
Many people with disabilities use assistance dogs to help them with their mobility needs and daily activities. These dogs can be easily identified by the harnesses that they wear while they are working. Others may have a sign that says, "Working Dog - Please Do Not Pet". When you come into contact with an assistance dog, never try to pet the dog; you may distract the dog from doing its job. You may ask the owner if you may pet the dog at an appropriate time.
German soldiers who were blinded in combat used the first assistance dogs during WWI in Germany. The concept of training dogs to assist soldiers eventually came to the United States a few years later, thanks to an American woman named Dorothy Eustis. In 1929, the first Seeing Eye Guide Dog organization was created in the United States.
There are three types of assistance dogs; guide dogs for people who are blind/visually impaired, hearing dogs for the persons who are deaf/hard of hearing, and service dogs for people with other mobility-related disabilities. Common dog breeds that are often trained to become assistance dogs include Labradors, Golden Retrievers, and German Shepherds. All assistance dogs are legally welcome in any place that accommodates the public.