It was 1975 when in the concept of “helper dog” or “service dog” was introduced to the world by Dr. Bonita Bergin who later founded the so-called Canine Companions for Independence society program. This program has grown in size ever since then and has involved lots of scholars and research into the various ways in which different breeds of dogs can help people who are disadvantaged in one way or the other. Some of the major focus points of these studies were matching the personality of a helper canine with the person it is supposed to be accompanying, using helper dogs in Special Education programs for severely disabled children as well as their role in helping people with clinical depression problems and other emotional issues.
Among the most able and useful dogs in this program is the Golden Retriever breed which has been shown to excel in many different roles as an assistance dog. Aside from being excellent guide dogs for blind persons, they can also help increase mobility in patients who suffer from various disabilities. Because the Golden Retriever is a very intelligent breed and these dogs can take in a lot of training, they are also very often trained as medical alert or seizure response dogs. Some clinics in the US use the Golden Retriever in helping persons with autism develop and adjust. There are so many ways in which a dog can help a disabled human that the old saying about it being a man’s best friend takes on a whole new meaning.
Seizure assistance or helping with balance are only some of the ways in which these dogs can be helpful. Lending their ears or noses to their human partners are others, especially if they are completely deaf or severely allergic because the Golden Retriever can sniff out an allergen better than any machine if properly trained. Another common way of helping the disabled is something that the Golden Retriever can really relate to and it is retrieving things for their owners, things that might be out of reach for the disabled person and bringing them is an easy task to do for a retriever. Because it is a medium to large size dog, and also a very strong one at that, the Golden Retriever has been proven to be great at pulling wheelchairs for people in need. These dogs are great companions because they are very dedicated to their owners or handlers and are also generally very friendly and calm towards humans. This is what makes them perfect for this role and they play it well.
Aside from helping people with their specific disabilities, one should also remember the crime disincentive aspect of having a helper dog such as a Golden Retriever, not to mention the emotional well-being that comes from the deep sense of companionship that this dog can develop and incite in its owner.