Written by Nicole Gunkel, RVT

You may already know that two of our own staff members are currently raising puppies for Guide Dogs of America, but did you know that dogs can be used to help autistic kids, U.S. soldiers/veterans, and even sniff out cancer?! As a part of my job in the veterinary industry, as well as my interests in pets and medicine, I ™m always trying to keep up with the latest news. I ™ve been seeing quite a few articles recently that talk about pets and their many different ways they are used to service both people individually as well as our community as a whole, and wanted to share some of these really cool stories! Please click the links below to read the original articles and comment or let me know if you have heard about any other really cool stories!

In recent years there have been several stories documenting how dogs have helped autistic children to connect with others around them. They learn about feelings and needs and help to reduce stress. Meet Wyatt, the Rhodesian ridgeback and his owner Janice Wolfe who is taking the steps forward to help many more children in this USA TODAY article, œRhodesian ridgeback stands tall as service dog for autism. 

Dogs are also helping those people currently serving in the military across seas and back home. Just as dogs have a calming effect with autistic children, they can help alleviate stress of soldiers deployed across seas. The News Tribune in Tacoma, Washington had an article about two dogs that prepared for a mission to Iraq.

Just as the healing effect ™s of dogs in the armed forces have been shown, they are now being advocated for veterans after they have served in the military. The Veterans Dog Training Therapy Act has currently been referred to the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. You can follow the progress on GovTrack.us. Check out this article on USA TODAY œMan ™s best friend could soon be veteran ™s best medicine. 

Auburn University researchers have developed a custom harness that will allow dogs to be guided remotely. This could be used for dogs to take on dangerous tasks in military and security operations and provide benefits for helping disabled people. I found this article really fascinating on Discovery News called, œDogs Guided Remotely by Stealth System. 

We all know that one of dog ™s best senses is their sense of smell. Dogs are used in search and rescue in events like avalanches and fallen buildings to sniffing bombs and drugs. But you probably have never heard of a dog that could sniff out cancer! Well, think again! Several dogs in Turkey are being trained and their sense honed to do just that. Check out this really cool article, œCanine Cancer Detectors Introduced in Turkey. 

I know that there are so many other avenues that dogs, and even cats, are being used to help others. As I find other current news stories I ™ll try to share them with you as well. If you would like to learn more about dogs in service or think your dog would make a great service pet, let us know! Guide Dogs of America is always looking for more great puppy raisers. The Delta Society trains and screens volunteers and their pets to share their healing powers in places like, hospitals, schools, rehabilitation centers and many more. Of course nothing takes away from the amazing benefits of owning a pet and the human-animal bond!