If you’re a dog owner, you probably already know just how awesome dogs are. They fill your life with love, loyalty, fur, and plenty to smile about.
For one little girl, her family pet not only keeps her bed warm when it gets cold at night, he’s also a service dog—a type of assistance dog specifically trained to help her manage her life-threatening disorder called mastocytosis.
Initial signs of mastocytosis may include “spots” that look like freckles on the skin of a person’s inner thighs or stomach. These spots can transform into hives and itch if stroked or irritated.
Dog on Duty
For KK Krawczyk, a 10-year-old living with mastocytosis, her service dog JJ is her best friend. For KK’s mom Michelle, the dog is a life-changer.
JJ has learned how to activate a specially equipped emergency phone, and the service dog also alerts adults if KK is about to have a reaction.
The story of dog meets girl makes me think of my own puppers and why he probably IS NOT the best choice of a working four-legged canine.
Our new family pet is a Mixed Mastiff, who we rescued from the local shelter. We affectionately named him Rocco Louey—with the “Rocco” serving his dignified side and the “Louey” encompassing his goofball nature.
Whatever we call him (the dog has several nicknames), he makes a fantastic addition to our family, but I’m thinking he’d ultimately “fail” at “earning” a paycheck.
And here’s why:
- First and foremost, a service dog should have rock-solid nerves—Rocco Louey is more about heart than being a hero; he always seems to know when I’m feeling blue, and he’s more inclined to share his favorite toy to cheer me up than embody the phrase, “There’s no need to fear! Underdog is here!”
- A service dog should be calm and confident, obeying even in the midst of chaos, but if you know anything about the Mastiff breed, then you know the word “obey” is a foreign concept to those floppy-eared hunks of love
- A service dog should have an abundance of good common sense—and Rocco Louey is more about slobbery dog kisses, which are actually awesome
- A service dog should be an excellent problem-solver because it is impossible to predict every potential puzzle a dog might encounter in his working life—Rocco Louey is better at posing for selfies than he is at solving problems
I’ve read that most service dogs are German Shepherds, Labrador Retrievers, or Golden Retrievers.
I’m sure that a Mastiff’s temperament and intelligence level could put Rocco Louey on the list too, but I also know his mere size doesn’t make him an ideal candidate (especially when my pupper is a full-grown adult and taking up sizable square footage of our home).
So, Rocco Louey may never “earn his stripes” or get a service medal, but he sure does bring delight and a big, deep resounding “strangers not welcome” bark to the home.