This is a guest blog post by Kerry Krell, Marketing and Outreach Assistant, here at the Arkansas Educational Television Network.
We've all heard "man's best friend." In fact, we've heard "man's best friend" so much that we almost forget the meaning.But when was the last time you really thought about the significance of what "man's best friend" really means?
A couple weeks ago, AETN aired a documentary, "Through a Dog's Eyes," about the training and placement of service dogs.
Service dogs are trained to help those with impaired vision, hearing or other disabilities. These dogs are trained to helpopen doors, help people cross streets and pull wheelchairs. Other service dogs help people with autism, epilepsy, or psychiatric conditions. In other words, these dogs are trained to be a substitute for a human caretaker.
However, picking a service dog isn't as easy as finding the dog you think is the cutest. Every dog responds differently to individual people. Some dogs respond better to adults, others are more tuned to the needs of children. The documentary does a really good job of explaining this through some rather heartbreaking footage.
Back to the meaning of "man's best friend." A 'friend' is someone who helps you when you need it, is a great listener and makes you laugh. Of course dogs are good listeners because they can't speak, but I like to think that if they could dogs would tell lots of corny jokes.
Dogs have been bred for thousands of years specifically to coexist with man in the most complementary relationship possible. There isn't a better example of this than through the use of a service dog.
Arkansas actually has only one service dog training group called Southwest Service Dogs. They're a non-profit company and provide several different types of service dogs including home helpmates and even therapy dogs for those in nursing homes or hospitals. If you know someone who might benefit from the help of a service dog or would like to know how to get involved check it out by following this link.