Karen B. London
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Service Dog Diversity
Pomeranian helps hearing-impaired woman

Pookee the Pomeranian helps Julianna Rigby by alerting her to sounds she can’t detect such as visitors at the door or the telephone ringing. Since the image many people have of service dogs is confined to German Shepherds and Golden Retrievers, Rigby sometimes receives dirty looks or requests to take the dog outside when she takes her with her to the grocery store or other places where dogs are usually not allowed.

I’ve met service dogs from a variety of breeds beyond the two standards mentioned above: Poodles, Cocker Spaniels, a French Mastiff, a Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever, Tibetan Terriers and Flat-coated Retrievers are just a few of them. Do you know of a service dog from a breed that is not typically thought of in that role? Tell us about the dog and what he or she does.



Karen B. London, PhD, is a Bark columnist and a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist specializing in the evaluation and treatment of serious behavior problems in the domestic dog.

CommentsPost a Comment
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Submitted by Evelyn Sharp | August 9 2010 |

For Service Dog Day (yesterday), I also posted a service dog blog. Based on your readers' comments, they may want to read that also. It covers slightly different, but I feel also important, issues.

We all need to help build awareness.
Thank you.

Submitted by Carolyn | August 10 2010 |

Seeing Debi Davis and her service dog, a Papillon, on a National Geographic program was inspirational. This was 8-9 years ago and I'd just gotten my own small dog. I was so impressed with Debi's dog Peek who had been named the 1999 Service Dog of the Year. Debi and Peek were amazing and inspired me to learn about clicker training my own dog.

Submitted by Kathryn | May 18 2011 |

I have a giant, wooly-coated Alaskan Malamute service dog. Her name is Lilly and she is a trained balance/mobility dog. 99% of the people I meet are wonderful. Although some questions may be intrusive, I try to be cheerful and informative. It is hard to deal with the occasional nasty comment but I try to concentrate on the joy the majority of people express when seeing my wonderful life partner.

Submitted by Brittany | July 25 2012 |

I just got an Alaskan Malamute puppy that I am going to train to be my balance/mobility assistance dog. Can you give me any advice? She is only six weeks old right now.

Submitted by Dani | June 20 2013 |

I also have an Alaskan Malamute Puppy (6 mo) for Balance/Mobility. Any advice would be wonderful!

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