There are approximately 500,000 service dogs in the United States that help disabled individuals mitigate their disability-related limitations. How exceptional is that?
The first week of August is all about celebrating all the devoted, hardworking service dogs who dedicate their lives to help disabled individuals navigate through life’s challenges. Service dogs are more than a companion. They are trained professionals who only focus on keeping their human handler safe and sound.
Although the urge to pet a good behaving dog seems natural and fine, it is best to not pet an on-duty service dog. Creating a distraction or approaching without permission can make any situation very stressful and dangerous for both the dog and the handler. Always speak to the handler first If you must approach.
Keep your own pets and children at a distance. Respect the owner’s boundaries. He or she might have social anxiety. If you ever see a service dog without its owner, it might be a sign of trouble. Seek help and let the dog lead you to its master.
I don’t personally have a service dog, but I plan to get one in the future. I can’t wait to see how beneficial it would be with having one.
Maybe it was faith, stubbornness, or both. Maybe Ace didn’t really know the risks. Either way, I had to admire the way he connected with my daughter Julianne and gave back her smile. She wouldn’t be alive at this moment without him.
“I still don’t think this is a good idea…” Mallory said. “She is still getting used to having Ace.”
She looked back at her eight-year-old disabled daughter, who was watching Frozen 2 on her iPad, while the golden retriever rested by her side.
“You need to stop worrying so much,” Archie responded. “Getting some fresh air will be good for all of us, I promise.”
Mallory exhaled and looked out the window of the rented RV. They just arrived at a local campsite near a national park. The boys got up and made their way up front.
“When are we doing s’mores?” Trenton asked.
“Yeah. I am starving,” Spencer added. “And there’s no cellphone service…”
“Well, we can eat as soon as you quit obsessing about your phone and help me get everything set up.” Archie smirked.
A crisp breeze blew eastward as the sun began to lower. Archie, Spencer, and Trenton were finishing up with building a campfire.
“Don’t throw sticks in that close, Trent,” Archie fussed. “You can get burned.”
“Yes, please be careful. We definitely do not need to go to the ER right now,” Mallory added as she was getting out hotdog condiments and refreshments.
Julianne was humming as she picked flowers around the picnic table in her new princess theme foot braces while Ace shadowed along. Mallory’s cellphone suddenly buzzed on the table.
“Ugh, I have to take this. It’s my boss,” she said as she began walking to the RV. “Please keep an eye on Jules.”
“Alright.” Archie replied without looking up.
Julianne was too focused on making a flower crown to even notice her mother’s absence.
“Looks like we need the match now,” Spencer said. “Where is it, Trent? I gave it to you.”
“You did not,” Trenton answered. “You have it.”
“You are such a shithead,” Spencer argued. “I know I gave it to you.”
“Don’t call me that, assface.” Trenton replied as he punched him.
Soon they were on the ground wrestling. Archie had to break it up.
A beautiful yellowish orange flew upon a flower Julianne was about to tie.
“Pretty butterfly,” Julianne said softy. “Look, Ace.”
Ace sniffed the butterfly and flew away towards the creek.
“Wait, come back miss butterfly!” Julianne said.
Butterfly got farther and farther away. The urge to follow it shook through her. Her dad was still breaking up her brothers when she looked back. Ace whined.
“Come on. Miss Butterfly is getting away.” Julianne ran before Ace could warn the family.
Protecting her was his duty, so he followed her, barking. Julianne just giggled and chased the butterfly.
The boys and Archie turned and noticed Julianne disappeared.
“Dammit! Where did Julianne go?!” Archie panicked. “See what y’all caused!”
All three of them immediately ran towards the barking.
Julianne lost her stepping when she tripped over a big root. When she tried to stand up, her left foot got stuck between the root.
“Ace! Help!” Julianne cried.
Ace pulled on her pant leg lightly with his teeth to get the brace loose. When it came loose, Julianne fell back and started rolling down a hill to the creek.
“I can’t stop!” Julianne screamed as she tried to grip on something.
Ace ran as fast as he could to catch up and stop her from rolling into the water. Within seconds, Ace caught up and Julianne grabbed his handle. The rolling stopped once Ace paused. They were within five feet of the water.
“Julianne! What in the world…” Archie shouted above.
Archie and the boys rushed down. Ace barked in relief.
“What happened?” Are you hurt?” Archie said as he picked up Julianne.
“I’m ok, Daddy! I have my lucky Ace with me.” Julianne smiled.