Gayle M Irwin

Gayle & Jeremiah,
her rescued shih tzu.

Service Dogs Step Up in Loyalty and Love: Hallmark Highlights the Important Work of These Canines

Sep 05, 2023 by Gayle M Irwin



September is National Service Dog Month, a time to recognize the various skills many canines possess to help humans. From guide dogs for blind people to task-taught canines helping people using wheelchairs or crutches, these animals service an important purpose: helping disabled humans enjoy a more independent life.


One of the first books I read about service dogs became a favorite of mine as a child.  The book, Follow My Leader, involved a boy named Jimmy who becomes blind after a fireworks incident. He comes to accept and trust his guide dog, Leader, to help him in life.
 

 

Dogs provide comfort and companionship, and many become helpers and therapists. Dogs assist people who experience PTSD, whether from military service or a traumatic event such as childhood abuse or an accident. Dogs serve deaf people and those dealing with medical issues like seizures. Canine Companions for Independence is an organization who helps match people with an appropriate service dog.


The Hallmark Channel has often showcased dogs, and other animals, in their romance and mystery movies. Some have become my favorite programs, including A Veteran’s Christmas, about a returning soldier who had to leave her K9 partner behind, Love and Sunshine, about a soldier, his dog, and the foster mom who took care of Sunshine the dog, and A Tail of Love, with a male soldier and a retired military dog. Other Hallmark movies featuring romance and dogs I’ve enjoyed include Romance to the Rescue (I loved the growth of the primary female character, and of course, loved the dog!), Love Unleashed, and Winter Love Story, combining authorship and dogs … and these are just a few of the many movies Hallmark has made that feature dogs.

 

Hallmark brings the puppy love once again in the upcoming movie Guiding Emily, scheduled for Friday night, September 8, 2023. A woman becomes blind and is paired with a guide dog, and the two experience challenges along the way. This looks like another of those heart-tugging, dog-and-person movies (with romance, of course!) Hallmark is known for, and I’m looking forward to watching it!

 

Service dogs and therapy dogs (like those employed by Lutheran Charities and ones that visit nursing homes, hospitals, and libraries) have important jobs. Life is challenging, and people with loss of sight, hearing, or mobility, and those who experience trauma through natural or human-caused disaster need the skill and comfort of canines. Read about a woman’s experience with a service dog who helps her cope with PTSD in honor of National Service Dog Month here:

https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/news/what-its-really-like-to-have-a-service-dog-national-service-dog-month/


So, during this special month, if you see a service or therapy animal, I hope you smile and silently thank those who train these creatures to help fellow human beings, and I hope you admire the animals for the loyalty and love they provide their special human. I know each time I see a service or therapy dog, that’s exactly what I do: smile and give silent gratitude and admiration. Those animals truly touch my heart.