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July 2020

  /    /  July

Whether your partner assists you during a seizure, detects high or low blood sugar, pulls your wheelchair or performs any other job, learning how to teach a Service Dog to retrieve a beverage from the fridge and training your partner to do so can mitigate many disabilities. The training can be difficult, but with patience, a sense of humor and lots of really good treats, your Service Dog will be retrieving drinks* in no time!

If you've been around dogs long enough, you quickly learn that while there may be a dominant or "alpha" dog in any given group, the dominant dog does not necessarily "care for" or "protect" the group. Yet even experienced dog owners, handlers and trainers still use the term "alpha" incorrectly. We borrow a lot of dog training terminology and concepts from wolves and wolf packs. However, misinformation and incorrect interpretations abound. Dogs are not descendants of wolves Pop culture abounds with the misconception that dogs descended from wolves. This has been disproven time and time again, however, it has been romanticized and embedded so deeply into our culture it's difficult to correct. Instead, dogs and wolves both descended from a common ancestor. Dogs evolved to live harmoniously with us and benefit from our success, while wolves developed as a wild species whose very existence depends on staying as far away from humans as possible. Dogs are to wolves as humans are to gorillas Dogs and wolves look extremely similar, however the comparison is like humans and gorillas. In "Alpha Status, Dominance, and Division of Labor in Wolf Packs," wolf expert L. David Mech writes that, in natural wolf packs, the alpha male or female are "merely the parents of the packs." that after years of observation he saw no dominance contests among wild wolves. "Calling a wolf an alpha is usually no more appropriate than referring to a human parent or a doe deer as an alpha," David Mech writes. "Any parent is dominant to its young offspring, so ‘alpha’ adds no information. Why not refer to an alpha female as the female parent, the breeding female, the matriarch, or simply the mother? Such a designation emphasizes not the animal’s dominant status, which is trivial information, but its role as pack progenitor, which is critical information."   The outdated Pack Theory In our culture, we require consistency in our leaders. Inconsistency is perceived to lack authenticity — or worse, can foster distrust. However, in the scientific world, it’s expected that thinking evolves as we learn new things — otherwise there would be no medical advancements and we would still be using leeches and casting blaming demons for real-life disease. While we used to think Pack Theory was valid, it has been replaced with more current knowledge. The Alpha is simply the parent Despite our romantic ideas, wolves do not live in packs where the dominant pack leader keeps all the other wolves

Service Dogs help people with a wide range of disabilities to live fuller, more independent lives. Some disabilities are visible, such as a mobility impairment, whereas others, like many neurological or psychiatric disabilities, are "invisible," and cannot simply be seen. Read on to learn about the types of disabilities Service Dogs assist with!