If you’re known for working hard (instead of hardly working), National Work Like a Dog Day is for you! On August 5th, we celebrate everyone with a strong work ethic who chases tirelessly after a goal. No doubt the origin of this expression refers to the tenacity and determination of dogs who were bred to assist humans with serious jobs. We owe these dogged professionals our sincerest thanks for the many ways they serve, guard and protect us.
Breeds that are classified in the Working Group by the American Kennel Club have a reputation of being “intelligent, strong, watchful, and alert.” In many cases, extensive and lengthy training is required to prepare these dogs for their service roles. Common canine occupations include:
Police K-9s – Trained to help law enforcement officers with specific tasks, police K-9s are most often specialists in one or two areas. Patrol dogs offer officer protection, suspect apprehension, area or building clearance and security, while detection dogs are experts at tracking or air-scent detection of lost persons, cadavers, explosives, or narcotics. K-9s usually serve for six to nine years and are often adopted by their handlers when they retire.
Search and Rescue (SAR) – Dog-and-handler SAR teams are trained and certified to help in many kinds of crisis situations. Sometimes they are part of a law enforcement agency or professional group, and in other cases they are volunteers. SAR can involve missing persons, avalanches, collapsed buildings, wilderness rescues, water rescues and more. After the collapse of the World Trade Center buildings on September 11th, more than 300 dog/handler teams responded to help.
Service Dogs – Service dogs are trained for specific work with people who have disabilities, as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). These include helping those who are blind, deaf, wheelchair bound, on the autism spectrum or affected by seizures. Service dogs are legally allowed access to public spaces where other animals are not permitted.
Therapy Dogs – Therapy dogs and their humans volunteer in settings like hospitals and nursing homes to provide comfort, distraction and love to patients and their caretakers.
Emotional Support Animals (ESA) – ESA’s differ from service and therapy dogs because while they may be trained for a specific owner, they are not trained for a specific task or duty. Note that as of January 2021, airlines are not required to accommodate ESA’s.
In honor of National Work Like a Dog Day, let’s remember to appreciate the working dogs and handlers bravely serving in our communities. And when we get home after work, let’s be sure to hug our own hairy heroes, whose love and loyalty always work like a charm to brighten our days.