Now THIS is an interesting sight! A dog who seems to like being on a merry-go-round with children. I am sure he did not get up there by himself. Yet, he does not look stressed staying on it. He is looking around, seemingly relaxed. The extent our dog friends go to be our playmates! Perhaps not just any dog would be open to this experience. Labradors continue to be the most popular breed in the United States, according to AKC registration statistics. They are gentle, smart, and family friendly. That’s why so many families with children choose Labs when they select a dog.
Because of Labrador’s desire to please us, they make excellent guide dogs. In fact, many guide dogs for the blind are Labradors. By definition, service dogs are individually trained to perform tasks for a person with a disability. The intent is for the person with disability to live a more independent life. This includes opening refrigerator door (by pulling on a towel), helping a blind person cross the street, help at the bank or store by using their mouths to hand over items. When they help someone who is blind to cross the street,, they wait until the person has a stable footing on the road from the curb, then guide them across the street, and again provide the stable footing when the person steps up onto the curb again. They are trained from puppyhood, basic skills first, then more advanced skills to be of service to us. Loving volunteers would care for them in their home for the first year. This first year the puppy is socialized. They go everywhere–stores, banks, interact with all kinds of people and other pets, so they get used to feeling comfortable in new surroundings. As service dogs they will encounter all kinds of new settings, and need to remain calm. After that first year, (if they pass the “tests”) they go to a special school to learn specific skills. The reward for the volunteer who have to part with a lovely puppy after one year is when the trained dog meets the person they are going to help.