Author: Deborah Goodkin, Managing Director, Savings Plans, First National Bank

Dogs have long been affectionately referred to as “man’s best friend.” But for the disability community, a dog’s purpose runs even deeper. Service dogs are animals trained to do particular tasks for an individual with a disability.

In September, we recognize our furry, four-legged friends and the invaluable support they provide the disability community by celebrating National Service Dog Month. Providing loyal companionship and assistance, service dogs live to serve and protect their handlers. Not only do they aid individuals with disabilities in navigating and easing the challenges of everyday life, but these dogs can also help their owners develop a greater sense of confidence and independence.

In light of this special month, here are a few things you may not know about service dogs:

  • Service dogs are not pets. For many owners, they are essential. As a result, these dogs should not be pet, talked to, or distracted—they have an important job to do. A handler’s life could depend on their dog.  
  • Training a service dog can take an average of 2 years, and it is specialized based on the specific needs of the owner they will be assisting.
  • Some breeds are better suited for the role than others. For example, retrievers are said to be the perfect candidates because they love to use their mouths and they have a good public reputation.
  • Service dogs can cost tens of thousands of dollars to train, but some non-profits, such as NOAH’s Dogs of Nebraska, work to match trained service dogs with eligible owners free of charge.
  • You can acquire a service animal with money from your Enable account.

Have a service dog and want to share your story? Reach out to us on Facebook.