by Susanna Mollet (age 13)
Service Dogs are special dogs that go through a difficult training program. Yondu is one of these dogs. he was born at 4 Paws for Ability in Xenia, OH and is a service dog in training. He is learning how to behave in public and be around all kinds of people and animals and eventually could learn how to help a child with a disability.
Service dogs need to get used to going all sorts of different places. They need to go to places that are crowded, noisy and have a lot of distractions they need to ignore. Yondu had a hard time with this as a puppy, but has improved as he has gotten older. It is hard to ignore other animals and toys. Youndy would really like to play with stuffed toys but he isn’t allowed to have them. He has to practice leaving them alone.
Service dogs have to learn to tolerate physical roughness from children. They can’t react when someone pokes them, pulls their tails or ears, climbs on them or yells. Not all dogs are able to do this. Yondu is naturally able to tolerate this physical behavior and reacts in a kind and gentle manner. He can’t bite or bark or he won’t be able to be a service dog.
Service dogs can do lots of things to help kids with disabilities. If they have seizures the dog can alert before it happens. For someone with diabetes the dog can alert if their blood sugar gets low. They can provide behavior disruption and deep pressure for kids with Autism. For kids with balance or coronation problems the dog can provide support when they walk. Service dogs can also track and find a child that may wander off. Service dogs can also be a child’s best friend.
The service dog training program is difficult and only very special dogs even begin training. Yondu is a smart dog and a hard worker. He is cute, cuddly and snuggly. He will either become a service dog or a pet dog.
*Yondu became a service dog when he was match with his new partner in February 2018.