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This is not an attempt to rush fall.

September is National Service Dog Awareness Month, and not an attempt to rush the fall. This highly honored and coveted awareness is given only to the highest thought of and truest deserving of our comrades. These animals give with all their might and love. They train for many months. They are devoted to the one person for whom they have worked so hard to serve.

They may serve the blind, the severely disabled (enabling them to remain independent and living in their own home), and they serve those with injuries and disabilities we may not see (but are there to debilitate them for life). They come in many shapes and sizes from the largest to the smallest. Every day we see them working and yet we show little respect for the help and service they provide.

Predominately displayed on their vests are the words “Please do not pet, working dog”. And yet we are so overcome with pride that in our country they can serve in this way, that we immediately go over and pet them. While sometimes store owners and establishments may not at first realize these animals are serving the highest of callings, while they may be ask to leave a store, restaurant or mode of transportation; the truth will soon become evident. Not only do these helpers improve the lives of those they live with; they also save the U.S. Taxpayer millions each year. For every service dog we see there is one person who is moving about society independently and with good self-esteem. The owners of these animals would otherwise need the services of facilities and medical personnel far more frequently.

And there are the animals of www.patriotpaws.org/service-dogs and wwwK9.warriors.org which are only two (of many) organizations rising and training dogs for the specific duties while serving our wounded military. There are www.pawsibilitiesunleashed.org that go out into our public and help those who have had a traumatic loss. Sometimes these losses are so great in number or so tragic we see or hear about them on national news, but make no mistake those are the same dogs used by many police and police chaplain corps use to notify and console family members of the recently passed.

There are of course service animals used in law enforcement, fire, search and rescue; as well as Guiding the blind, hearing impaired, hospital and hospice services, legal services (in courtrooms to help victims tell their story and so many more. These are only a few of the many jobs that are done so well by our service animals. All they ask is a kind word and a pat on the head or back by the person they are working for. You may think is unusual to announce a special feature for next month at this time. However, this is to give you time to have an opportunity to count each day the number of service animals you see and truly celebrate them in September.