Where would we be without our best friends?
In times of strife, they are there for us to pick up the pieces and build us back up again. Similarly, when we get a little too big for out boots, our best friends will be the first ones to point out that fact and suggest, in the bluntest possible way, that we snap out of it. Though relationships might begin and end, seasons will come and go, a true best friend is ever present in the same way as a family member. You have probably heard it said that dogs are man’s best friend, but this soundbite would seem to do our canine colleagues a disservice. Increasingly, we rely on dogs not only for companionship, but also to help us with essential tasks. These include police dogs, guide dogs, and other service dogs who provide care and aid for a wide range of disabilities and mental illnesses. Colt is one such service dog. He provides extraordinary assistance to his owner, who suffers from a pretty traumatic condition. Colt has an extremely important job; to protect his owner’s head when she is having seizure. She has a traumatic brain injury meaning that another blow to the head could prove fatal, so for Colt and his owner, the stakes are extremely high. Reportedly, what he does, known as “Seizure/Pass out Alert & Response” is not a learned skill, rather it is an instinct that comes to Colt naturally. Because of this, Colt was selected at a young age from his litter by a behavioural specialist and his current owner. Since her seizures can mean that she convulses, and loses control of her body, Colt’s owner is reliant on him to ensure that her head is safe. As the dog’s popular Instagram page will attest, he also makes himself useful in a number of other ways, including helping to pull his owner’s wheelchair and placing shopping items in a basket for her. As his owner describes on Instagram; “A very helpful thing that Colt does while shopping because I am in a wheelchair is take things I give him and put them in the basket, my lap is only so big and I would have to go back and forth to the cart many many times to empty my lap which would drain my energy. Colt doesn’t mind doing it and it helps a ton.” The most important of Colt’s duties, though, is to keep his owner safe when seizures do occur. Dogs like Colt are clearly invaluable to their owners, and provide an incredible service to make their owners’ lives more comfortable. Meanwhile, several US states and counties have been implementing an animal abuse register to document the details of perpetrators in a bid to protect the welfare of animals. The register allows pet stories and animal shelters to check that potential owners do not have a documented history of animal abuse, while also providing a method by which potential “pet-sitters” can be checked for a similarly chequered past. You can read more about the animal abuse register here.