Service Dogs: No Small Matter When It Comes To Helping Veterans


Photo courtesy of Keira’s handler.

When it comes to service dogs, size really doesn’t matter. All too often many people think that larger breeds like German Shepherds or Golden Retrievers are the only dogs capable of fulfilling this important role, but this isn’t true. More and more smaller breeds are joining the ranks to do their part to help veterans with service connected disabilities.

Meet Keira. She is a nine year old Chihuahua mix who is a vigilant service dog when it comes to looking out for her handler. Keira is one of hundreds of small breed service dogs who help to fulfill an important mission: To be there to help veterans with their needs, whether it be a medication reminder or a gentle nudge with their nuzzle when their handler may be feeling overwhelmed or stressed out.

Photo by Lorri Darbes: Keira listens quietly during a visit with her handler.

Small service dogs, just like their larger breed counterparts, go through special training to learn:

  • Deterrence techniques from their natural dog behavior
  • How to perform tasks that the dog owner can’t do because of their disability
  • Learn to work with their handler’s special needs.
  • Techniques for calming their owner during an anxiety attack

Small breeds also have the same access rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

For more information on different types of service dogs and their legal rights of access please visit the following links:





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