Service Dogs Are Celebrated In September, But Here’s Why They’re Important All Year Round

Service dogs are more than just important, they’re critical. For veterans, disabled civilians, children, adults, and anyone who needs a helping paw, service dogs provide essential assistance for all walks of life.

They’re pretty adorable, too.

From helping their humans open doors and cupboards, taking them on extraordinary adventures, keeping them grounded in times of emotional distress, and guarding military bases, service dogs have made it possible for their handlers to accomplish more, and more importantly, enjoy life.

It’s about time we recognized them for that, and September 1 is a great day to start.

September is National Service Dogs Month in the United States. Previously known as National Guide Dog Month, the new version was first established in 2008 by Eight is Enough patriarch Dick Van Patten. Van Patten passed away in 2015, but his legacy lives on, as do the stories of countless service dogs throughout the world.

Here are a few of our favorites.

10. Hockey Dog

The New York Rangers hockey team adopted a yellow labrador retriever named Ranger in 2018, and have since trained him up as an autism service animal.

Ranger will provide help and companionship to a child with autism while simultaneously raising awareness and acceptance for the disorder.

Ranger was provided by BluePath, a non-profit organization that pairs autistic children with service dogs to give them companionship and safety, as well as offer a chance to develop new skills and independence. BluePath “bleeds blue,” just like the Rangers claim to, making this a perfect match. Ranger’s very first collar was even blue!

“We are so excited to partner with the New York Rangers to raise understanding and awareness for autism and of the importance of service dogs in the world,” said Michelle Brier, vice president of marketing and development at BluePath.

9. Presidential Pup

Service dog Sully is helping 94-year-old former President George H. W. Bush open doors, pick things up off the ground, and get help where otherwise needed. According to People, Mr. Bush was recently diagnosed with low blood pressure and fatigue, vascular parkinsonism, needs a motorized scooter to move around.

Of course, the Yellow Labrador lends much more than just a helpful paw. It’s only been a short while since the passing of former First Lady Barbara Bush, and Sully will provide the president with some much needed companionship.

Mr. Bush’s aide, Evan Sisley, has remarked that the pair are already forming a bond. Sully was recently photographed getting comfortable at the nonagenarian’s feet, while another member of the former presidents club, Bill Clinton, came over for a visit.

“More than anything else the dog will be a wonderful companion,” Sisley said.

8. Atlas

Atlas, a Golden Retriever service dog, was over the moon when he got the chance to meet his idol, Pluto, at Disney World. It was a dream come true for the perky pup!

Atlas’ owner, Julian Gavino, is in a wheelchair due to Ehlers Danlos Syndrome. The pair visit Disney World weekly but had yet to meet Atlas’s idol. Atlas’s favorite toy is a stuffed Pluto that he is often seen napping or playing with.

At Disney, Pluto got right down to Atlas’s height, and Atlas’ tail hasn’t stopped wagging since!

Gavino posted on Facebook, “I can not believe this post just hit 1 million. I am in disbelief! So cool. Whether it just makes people smile, laugh, or they learn about EDS/chronic illness, or service dogs, I am just floored this many people have seen it no matter what they are getting out of it.”

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Matthew Russell is a West Michigan native and with a background in journalism, data analysis, cartography and design thinking. He likes to learn new things and solve old problems whenever possible, and enjoys bicycling, going to the dog park, spending time with his daughter, and coffee.
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