Celebrating The Assistance Dog

Did you happen to notice the recent news story about the passing of Gunner, a beloved and renowned service dog from Richmond Hill? This particular pup, a Great Pyrenees, touched many hearts and lives, earning himself some impressive awards along the way. Gunner isn’t the only assistance dog who has made the world a better place. A local Marietta, GA vet discusses assistance dogs below.

What Is An Assistance Dog?

There are several types of service dogs. Guide dogs, formerly called seeing-eye dogs, help people with visual impairments get around. Fido may help his humans navigate around things like curbs, and help them cross streets. Hearing dogs, as the name suggests, help those with hearing impairments, by alerting them to things like doorbells, alarms, or buzzers. There are also service dogs, who may help people with various other disabilities and impairments, which may range from diabetes, autism, PTSD, or epilepsy, to name a few.


Assistance dogs have been around for thousands of years. In fact, a mural dating back to the first century AD showed a pooch leading a blind man was found in the ancient Roman city of Herculaneum. The modern history of assistance dogs goes back to the 1750’s, when a blind Austrian man, Josef Reisinger trained his canine pals to help him get around. The first official school for guide dogs was founded in Paris in 1780. The practice gained traction after World War l, when many soldiers were blinded by shrapnel and mustard gas. A German doctor took one of patients and his dog for a walk, and noticed the pooch was helping the blind man. The first German guide dog school opened in 1916. Today, there are several schools and organizations around the world, including the SD Gunner Fund.

Assistance Dog Petiquette

While assistance dogs should be celebrated, one should never approach or interact with them. Fido may be very cute, but he’s also working, and must be allowed to focus on his job: helping his human. The only exception would be if an assistance dog were to approach you. Many dogs are trained to get help, so this may be an indication that someone is in trouble. Contact authorities and, if you can do so safely, follow the dog.

Please contact us, your Marietta, GA pet hospital for all of your pet’s veterinary care needs. We’re here to help!

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