But that’s just me, a human making assumptions about what life would be like as a pooch. It’s possible that actual service dogs love their jobs. It’s also possible that they feel superior to unemployed animals that spend all day chewing tennis balls and eating sidewalk gunk.
To find out what service dogs really make of their jobless kin, I asked one of the only people who could possibly know — animal communicator Claudia Hehr, who uses telepathy to “talk” with pets and has spoken with many service dogs.
According to Hehr, service dogs don’t think of themselves as any different from non-service dogs, nor do they judge them. “Animals don’t judge each other, and they don’t judge us,” she says. “They don’t judge at all.”
However, Hehr claims that many service dogs don’t actually enjoy their jobs. For example, she once befriended a German Shepherd that was being trained as a police dog. The Shepherd excelled in search training, but struggled when it came to attacking. So, Hehr “talked” with the dog, and she says he told her that he didn’t want to hurt anyone. (Please excuse me while I happy cry.)
Hehr also mentions that because service dogs aren’t allowed as much freedom when they’re on the clock as other dogs are, they may feel confused at times. Again, they won’t necessarily judge other dogs, but they may wonder why they’re not allowed to say hi or sniff butts.
Interestingly, a 2018 study looked into whether therapy dogs enjoy their jobs, and it found that they “did not have significantly increased physiological stress responses, nor did they exhibit significantly more stress-related behaviors than affiliative-related behaviors.” This suggests that the participating service dogs at least didn’t feel strained while working.
That said, Hehr argues that studies like these can’t necessarily be extrapolated to all dogs, emphasizing that “every animal is different.” She also says many service dogs seem happy when they’re on the job because that’s when they get the most attention. Therefore, she recommends that we employ people like her to ask dogs what they’re interested in — e.g., sniffing things out, guiding people, accompanying someone in social situations — and only pushing them into the service lifestyle if there’s a match.
Sounds like we’re gonna need a LinkedIn for dogs.