Is your dog a possibility dog—a marvelous creature that can help humanity? If so, it can be not only be an amazing companion but can also help save lives—both emotionally and physically. Our special guest, rescue dog expert extraordinaire, Susannah Charleson, trains dogs for three purposes: 1) to find lost people with special needs (e.g. Alzheimer’s), 2) to serve as service dogs to help people with psychological disorders, and 3) to help find other lost dogs. Here Susannah shares some fascinating inside information on how special “possibility” dogs can help save us from the worst and inspire us to be our best.
*Dogs can help find people with special needs. According to Susannah, some people with conditions such as Alzheimer’s, dementia, and autism don’t even know they’re lost—they could be wondering in the street far away from home without a clue as to how they got there. Specially trained dogs can help find them by scent (pillow or shoe, for example). Also, because they are super loving and nonthreatening (golden retrievers are a favorite), they don’t scare the lost person and give them comfort when they find them.
*Service dogs can help those with psychological disorders. Specially trained service dogs are taught to perform specific tasks that counteract the person’s psychological disability. For example, a dog can put their paws on their obsessive-compulsive owner to break their pattern of constantly checking things in the house (stove, e.g.). Another dog can nudge the owner with their nose to play with them (or bring their leash to go outside) when the owner is suffering from depression and doesn’t want to get out of bed.
*Dogs can provide us emotional support and help us reconnect with others. Susannah shares the story of how she reconnected with her separated family through a small rescue dog that they shared love for. When we pet a dog, the bonding hormone, Oxytocin, is released in us and the dog—making us feel more loving and loved. In fact, rescued dogs can be the most loving because they are immensely grateful to be rescued and have a safe home.
Overall, Susannah says, dogs can teach us marvelous lessons of unconditional love (dogs love us no matter what), forgiveness (they forgive earlier abusive owners), and patience (they wait forever for us by the door). In fact, we can even follow the example of “magnet dogs” (caring dogs that find other lost dogs), by being “magnet people”—we can make others feel comfortable and at ease by providing empathy and compassion to them. By giving love without expectation, we can model the nature of that most marvelous of creatures, one of our best friends in life, the dog. Go play with a dog today and feel the love!