They’re welcome in places where other pets aren’t allowed. They can be your eyes, your arms, and your cute, little therapist.
If you think dogs are the only service animals helping people out, prepare to be surprised.
From helping you with your daily routine to giving you emotional support, these animals are here to make your life better.
But don’t mistake them for pets. To become your personal assistants, service animals must be trained to help you with a specific disability first.
Unlike the traditional pet-owner relationship, these animals take care of you, and not the other way around.
The first trained animals guided the blind over two centuries ago. The service animals of today are also able to detect the onset of an epileptic seizure, or remind you to take your pills if you suffer from depression.
So what kind of animals make excellent helpers? And what exactly can they help you with?
Who said pigs can’t be cute? While mini pigs make adorable pets, pot-bellied pigs can be trained to perform all the same tasks that service dogs typically do.
They’re highly intelligent, and despite what you might think of them, they’re much cleaner than dogs. They don’t shed as much either, so you won’t need to train them to vacuum your home twice a week.
Their gentle nature also makes them excellent therapy animals for children with autism. Because who would you be least scared of? A big dog, or this cute little piggy?
Speaking of small, how would you like the companionship of a tiny horse?
These incredibly calm and docile creatures are a good service animal for people who need physical support to walk. They’re naturally very focused on their work, and aren’t easily distracted from their duty when someone pats them or grooms them.
They have sharp eyes, nearly 350-degree vision, excellent memory, and exceptionally good manners. With an average lifespan of 30-40 years, they live longer than any service dog. And don’t let their compact size fool you – they’re strong enough to help their handler up out of a chair.
However, when it comes to picking a dropped TV remote up off the floor, or putting a straw into a bottle, that’s a job for capuchins. These monkeys aren’t monkeying around.
If properly trained, capuchins become your hands and legs. Well, they can’t brush your teeth or go shopping for you. But they will be a good help for people with mobility-limiting conditions.
Turning the pages of a book? Just a second. Thirsty? Let me bring you a glass of water. Helper monkeys can even scratch you where you’re itchy.
Then there are ferrets. Highly social and easy-going, ferrets like to burrow close to their owners who need emotional support.
But their help isn’t just emotional. Ferrets can be trained to wake you up and remind you to take your medication. They’ll even alert you about an oncoming seizure or panic attack.
Your fluffy feline can do that too. Cats have an innate sense of the onset of a seizure. They can be easily trained to alert you about a seizure before it starts.
While all these service animals can be good helpers for individuals, some creatures are out in the field saving lives. Like the African giant pouched rats. With their highly developed sense of smell, these little heroes can sniff out landmines without setting them off. They can also be trained to detect cases of tuberculosis in human sputum, and can check 100 samples in just 20 minutes.
Despite all their abilities, no animal helper is able to work for you in the office. But all of them are giving incredible support to those who need it.