For the longest time, I was under the mistaken idea that service dogs were used only by people who had mobility issues, sight problems or a strictly physical difference in ability.
As I learned more about the vast variety of people out there, I gradually became aware of dogs helping people ease social anxiety problems and other emotionally based issues. In recent years, I’ve also found that service animals help folks with autism, too.
That makes a lot of sense for the right person. Animals in general calm a lot of people down, and dogs are unique in that they’re so easily trained and big enough to do jobs that smaller animals can’t, like physically blocking an autistic child from stepping into the street and things like that.
They’ve also been normalized to a point where many businesses train their employees about how to act when a service dog is present.
When I looked around for more examples, I was a little surprised to see service dogs actually helping children learn how to read.
Of course, they’re not sitting there, sounding out words with the kids, but they do provide a very calming presence, and an incentive to take part in reading sessions. When it comes to something as challenging as reading, especially if the child happens to have dyslexia or another language based learning disability, every little bit of joy put into reading helps.
Personally, I’ve always loved animals. I grew up in houses with multiple dogs and cats. I can see how the novelty of an animal can help encourage struggling readers to find more interest in the skill and how they can help calm an overstimulated person down.