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What Makes a Good Brigadoon Service Dog? - By Executive Director Denise CoStanten (2008)

“What makes a good service dog?” The first thing that comes to mind is the dog must love people and have a willingness to please. There are many things that will cause a dog to fail the program, such as fearfulness, or perhaps it growled at a child, or chases squirrels.

All dogs do doggy things, we expect it. However, dogs in a service dog uniform are expected to behave un-dog-like. Such as, not to react to moving objects or animals, not to bark at intruders, to lay quietly for long periods of time under a table or next to its human partner, and to ignore other dogs. They may have to retrieve items other than their toys, open doors, or turn on a light switch. These are things we expect from a trained service dog that we do not expect from our household pets. They are not permitted to pull on the leash, get up from a down without permission, be calm—yet friendly. Service dogs are to be unobtrusive helpmates in public.

Does this mean they cannot be a dog? Of course not. While at home they are allowed to lounge around, play ball in the backyard, sleep in bed with their partner, and greet guests when they arrive. Does this mean they do not still help their human partner even though they are not wearing their uniform? Interestingly enough, the dog knows when they are needed, with or without the uniform. In order to be easily identified in public, we dress them in their uniform (vest, cape, or whatever you prefer to call it) and they are transformed into a working animal and proud of it too!

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