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15 Surprising Tricks Service Animals Can Do

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So many awesome tricks a service animal can do, so little time. From carrying-based jobs to tug-based tasks, the things an service animal can do for people with limited mobility is nothing short of astounding.

And any disability, no matter how profound, can benefit from a service animal. From amazing to wow, here are 15 surprising things service animals can do .

1) Pull your wheelchair.

Considered a “tug-based” task, a service animal can be taught to pull a wheelchair by a rope tied to the wheelchair. A larger service animal is definitely ideal for this task. This trick is perfect for anyone with weaker arms who needs help every now and then (and can’t afford fancy power-assist rims).

service-dog-shopping

2) Act as your mobile cane.

For people who can walk but have balance problems, a service dog (if it’s large enough) can walk alongside you and act as your cane. A service dog is taught to brace and counter-balance humans. The person paired with the dog lets them know they need their help by pressing the handle down that’s attached to a harness on the dog’s back.

3) Unload your dryer.

Can you put on a shirt, but can’t reach inside the dryer? If so, a service animal can jump up and get the clothes out of the dryer—simple as that. By using a laser pointer, you can point wherever you want your clothes placed.

4) Hang your clothes.

If your curtain rod is low enough, a service animal can even help you hang your clothes. I know, crazy awesome. And they can take your clothes off the hangers and bring them to you as well (hopefully your assistance dog wasn’t a clothes horse in a past life).

 

5) Bring you your meds.

You finally make it to the couch or bed when you realize you forgot your meds. Stay seated and let your service animal fetch them for you. They can use their forepaws to hold the container upright on your lap so you can open it up. Service animals can also fetch insulin kits and respiratory assist devices.

6) Answer your phone.

Ok, maybe not “technically,” but an assistant animal can bring you your phone [and put it on your lap].  They even know to bring it when it rings. Pretty cool, huh? And of course, you’ll want to make sure it’s a cordless phone. They can also pick up your cell when you drop it—which I think all of us could use.

7) Help you transfer. 

Definitely one of the coolest tricks, a service animal can be trained to help humans transfer into bed. They’re able to help by providing a sturdy “stand stay” position, where they brace themselves on command. By acting as a brace, you can push against them to keep your balance as you make the leap from wheelchair to bed (or vice-versa).

8) Grab you a beer from the fridge.

That’s right, an assistant animal can grab you a beverage from the fridge (they open the fridge using a rope tied to the handle). Any beverage in a can-like shape can be picked up by a service dog—definitely a nice trick on a hot summer’s day.

service-dog-fetching-drink

9) Bring your wheelchair back if it rolls away. 

A scary and unfortunately common thing—your wheelchair rolling away when you’re transferring at home, in a parking lot or anywhere else. If you forget to put on your brakes, your chair can roll out of reach. A service dog will bring it back to you by nudging it or pulling it using a rope tied to the chair.

10) Pick up dropped change.

Until coins are eliminated, a service animal’s ability to pick up coins will always be one of their most beneficial tasks. Who likes bending over and picking such tiny things up off the floor anyways? This task is especially handy when no one is around to help and the last thing you want to do is give a stranger several free quarters after you’ve left.

11) Bring in your mail.

The mail has arrived? They can go grab it. And they can bring in your newspaper too. Whether you want to train your assistant animal to get it at the same time each day or on command, this is a sweet trick. Of course you want to make sure you have a mailbox that doesn’t require a key to open.

12) Take off your shoes.

A service dog’s mouth is their main tool and this is especially the case when it comes to helping people taking off their shoes and socks. They can also put them away or bring them to you to put on.

13) Carry your things.

Do you ever find yourself with an overwhelmingly heavy bag that’s impossible to carry? A larger service animal can tote around bags for you. Just make sure the bag they’re carrying is made of canvas or another durable fabric. They can also take duffle bags out of your handicap accessible van and bring them into your house. Hello new camping partner! 

14) Put your arm or foot back in place. 

A trick that can save you from possible injury, a service animal can put back an arm on an armrest if it’s fallen off (needed by high-quadriplegics, people with ALS) or a foot on a footrest if it’s fallen off. For a lot of people with limited sensation and have no idea they need their limb back in place, this can be a lifesaver.

15) Hit the elevator button.

For a lot of people, hitting the elevator buttons just isn’t possible. In this tricky situation, a service animal can help by jumping up on their back legs and hitting the buttons with their front paws. Of course they may hit a few other buttons in the process, but hopefully the button you need will get hit (it usually does).

These top 15 tricks are just a small insight into the dozens of amazing things service animals can do. Dogs aside, other animals can be used as service animals too. Capuchin monkeys and miniature horses are slowly growing in popularity, proving their mental capabilities are just as sharp as a canine.

Do you have a service animal? What cool tricks have you taught them?

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About Tiffiny Carlson

Tiffiny Carlson is a writer and quadriplegic from Minneapolis. She has a C6 spinal cord injury from a diving accident when she was 14 years old. Writing and breaking stereotypes is her passion. She's been the SCI Life columnist for New Mobility magazine since 2003 and is the founder of the longtime disability site, BeautyAbility.com. Her work has also been featured in Penthouse, Playgirl and Nerve.com. And when she's not writing, Tiffiny loves to cook and practice adaptive yoga.


10 Responses

  1. [...] life filled with love and treats in Marc’s home. But Marc knows he is alive today because of his working dog, [...]

  2. [...] RELATED CONTENT: 15 Surprising Tricks Service Animals Can Do [...]

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  5. [...] Tiffiny Carlson, The Mobility Resource. Click here to read the original article and more of Tiffiny’s [...]

    • avatar Margie says:

      I have a Hearing Dog who tells me when the timer goes off, teakettle boils, and importantly for me — when the bus comes.

      I have my nose in a book and am not aware of any noise (Is there any??). W/o her I’d have missed a lot of busses.

      And boy, do people in this town know us! Made friends with a blind man whose dog was leaning towards us. I told him and now the 4 of us get together once or twice a week for talk, coffee, and dogs.

      Margie and Naomi
      Canine Companions for Independence grads

  6. What about the ponies. Obama, my pony, provides wheelchair access across sand dunes, beaches, mountain and moorland.
    https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-oXjeG6LdWCI/T5SBC6RfUCI/AAAAAAAAPU0/NtiXZWel2-0/s640/DSCF7801.JPG

  7. [...] Awww…so adorable and so sweet! What a nice doggy! – Source Not everyone is willing to help us out with household chores and grocery shopping! But this doggy is glad to be of help! – Source [...]

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