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7. Service Dogs for the Mobility Impaired

For people who have a limited range of motion (perhaps due to partial paralysis), a helping paw can help in carrying and retrieving items, or even helping to pull a wheelchair. The New Hampshire official website has a comprehensive list of service animals identified by their ability to assist mobility impaired individuals, which extends to providing support for people with stability and balance issues, as well.

6. Service Dogs

It is important to make the distinction between therapy, assistance, and service dogs. Service dogs, by definition, are specially trained to assist people with disabilities, including physical, emotional, and other health impairments. Because service dogs are professional assistants, they are not considered pets. Due to this, service dogs are allowed access to areas that otherwise prohibit pets.

5. Hearing Dogs

Professionally trained companion dogs for the disabled can be specially trained to help the hearing impaired as well. The National Education for Assistance Dog Services, or NEADS, trains and provides canine companions for people who are hearing challenged, including combat veterans and people with autism. By signaling people with gentle head-butts or other sensory stimuli, these service dogs provide vital assistance as well as companionship.

4. Diabetes Alert

Another incredible skill some dogs have is the ability to detect in advance when a diabetic person is going to suffer from a sudden drop in blood sugar. Unfortunately, like seizure alert dogs, diabetes alert dogs are not covered by medical insurance. But their ability to save lives, such as in the case of 8-year-old Johnny Pion and his dog, Hero, have gained media attention and recognition of their abilities.


Image Credit: Martha Soukup / via Flickr

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Read more: Animal Rights, Behavior & Communication, Cats, Cute Pet Photos, Dogs, Humor & Inspiration, Pets, Safety

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Nicolas, selected from petMD

petMD is a leading online resource focused solely on the health and well-being of pets. The site maintains the world's largest pet health library, written and approved by a network of trusted veterinarians. petMD was founded to inspire pet owners to provide an ever-increasing quality of life for their pets and to connect pet owners with pet experts and other animal lovers. For more information, visit


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8:34PM PST on Feb 24, 2014

Thank You. Dogs are the best.

12:48PM PDT on Aug 17, 2012

gotta love snuggle pets (or any kind really) and service animals really make a difference

8:23AM PDT on Jul 31, 2012

Fascinating and interesting facts. Dogs and other animals offer us so much with their companionship and assistance.

At the moment I am owned by a 16-year-old blind cat that is a purrleasure to be around. Have had a few dogs in my life over the years.

6:41PM PDT on Jul 28, 2012

Thank you for article.

6:41PM PDT on Jul 28, 2012

Thank you for article.

3:16PM PDT on Jul 2, 2012

Thanks for posting!

3:15PM PDT on Jun 26, 2012

Thanks for posting.

6:28PM PDT on Jun 24, 2012

They are good at so many things, and so eager to help us.

2:39PM PDT on Jun 24, 2012

We must also think about people helping animals and understand what is wrong if something bother the pet; in my case cat. The experience to have cats as familymembers they communicate with you and in that way we can understand animals. I have understood for long times my cats and also I have given my time to them when the final call is coming to them. They look at me several times in the middle of the struggle of death. And they calm down when they see I am next to them when the time has come.

12:22AM PDT on Jun 24, 2012

Thank-you for posting the article. Dr. Weil certainly went right to the main point when he said how the Animal Assisted Therapy provides the patient with a means of giving & receiving affection. I don't think that aspect is thought of as much as it needs to be & hence the importance of it gets pushed into the background. Except for those with a heart of stone, humans have a need to exchange affection & it does not have to be with a therapy trained pet. Personally & professionally speaking, I can attest to the value of mutual or reciprocal warm feelings.

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