We have a new staff member named Henry! Henry works with Mike B., a librarian at the Central Library, and he’s a handsome fellow, yes?
Service Dogs are trained to work with individuals with physical or mental disabilities including panic attacks, PTSD and depression. But it’s not easy to become a Service Dog. First, the dogs must be screened for temperament. A good Service Dog is not protective, is people-oriented, is not overactive, and is confident but not dominant or submissive. Some are trained from puppyhood, but like many Service Dogs today, Henry is a rescue dog. With the downturn in the economy, shelters are finding that increasing numbers of dog owners are giving up their dogs because they are either relocating or having to downsize to places that don’t allow dogs. Many of these rescues are well suited to the rigorous training that a certified facility can provide.
These doggies undergo months of training with instructors and then they have to train with their people. Henry trained with Heeling Allies for six months and with Mike alone for several weeks. More training is ahead; Henry is going to be as educated as any librarian you’ll ever meet!
If you run into Henry, remember some of the etiquette for interacting with people and their Service Dogs:
- Speak to the person first. Do not aim distracting or rude noises at the dog .
- Do not touch the service dog without asking for, and receiving, permission.
- Do not offer food to the service dog.
- Do not ask personal questions about the handler’s disability, or otherwise intrude on his or her privacy.
- Don’t be offended if the handler does not wish to chat about the service dog.
Mike describes Henry as very serious at work but playful at home (he knows, in life, you need to mix it up a bit). He is great with kids, lets cats share his food dish while he is eating, and has a wise, yet puppyish soul. To learn more about the wonderful work done by service animals, check out Elise Lufkin’s inspiring and informative To the Rescue: Found dogs with a Mission, Rachel McPherson’s Every Dog Has a Gift: True Stories of Dogs Who Bring Hope & Healing into Our Lives, and Patricia Dibsie’s beautifully illustrated Love Heels: Tales from Canine Companions for Independence.
~ Marty, Broadview Branch