Last Thursday, August 26, was international dog day. A day to celebrate the role of these lovely animals in our lives. A day to recognize dogs that bring us comfort, protect us, and save lives. Some of these fluffy friends are those service dogs trained to assist individuals with disabilities so that they can participate in day-to-day activities. Service dogs can bring a sense of freedom to their partners 24 hours per day, 365 days per year. There are also support dogs defined by their ability to comfort people through affection and companionship.
Service Dogs, for example, provide greater independence, joy, fulfillment, confidence, security, and love. A service dog can assist individuals with disabilities by:
- Providing balance or support when standing or walking
- Assisting with transfers from a wheelchair to a chair/bed
- Opening doors
- Retrieving things for their person
- Turning lights on/off
- Alerting a person who may have a seizure
- Alerting to cardiac episodes
But have you ever seen any of your colleagues have service dogs at the workplace? Do you know that despite your personal love towards these furry animals, you are not allowed to pet them or ask the owners why they have them by their sides?
In cases where coworkers want to communicate with the service dog or express their curiosity to know more about why individuals apply service animals, some issues are running through the organization. There is a problem in the workplace in relation to the service animal, but it would be wrong to say the animal or the person with the disability are at the root of that problem. The issue is coworkers interacting with the service animal inappropriately. In situations where coworker interaction with a service animal is causing problems, it may be helpful to educate fellow employees and create policies to prevent issues from arising in the future.
People with disabilities need to use assistive facilities to perform their roles effectively in the workplace. Sometimes it can be a wheelchair, hearing aids, or even a service or emotional dog. In all these scenarios, not only do employers need to support them but also the role of coworkers is crucial in terms of settling a satisfying and secure working environment for everybody.
Happy International Dog Day!