Discussing dog breeds, dog-adoption, and the human-canine connection.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Miniature horses to replace dogs?

Service animals today....



In the U.S. service animals have traditionally been dogs.
The history of service dogs began with the guide dog program, which trains dogs to guide the blind.
The web site for the first and still largest program in the country can be found here: http://www.seeingeye.org/







Under current federal law - the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) -  service dogs are
1) allowed anywhere a disabled person needs to go and
2) are dogs (more about point 2 in a moment.)




For a while there was an increasing use of a range of animals that were called service animals -- but when it comes to current legislation, a service dog is the one animal that needs to be given access everywhere - stores, restaurants, places of businesses, schools etc. that a disabled person goes.



Except when the service dog is not a dog - the dog in some circumstances can instead be a service miniature horse.

Yes, that's right, out of all other possible, potential service animals, the only other one that is allowed under Federal Law to be given the same access to businesses, schools, restaurants etc. is a miniature horse. The horse does have to be house-trained and wear special shoes - so he doesn't scuff up floors - and generally weighs 100 pounds or under.



Miniature horses are preferred for certain types of service for several reasons:
  • They have a significantly longer lifespan than does a dog
  • They may be more effective for people with disabilities which affect the person's balance
  • People with allergies to dogs may not have horse allergies
  • A miniature horse has a much longer working life than a dog; a dog might be able to comfortably work for six or seven years following training, a horse can potentially work 20+ years.

Note: I am talking about service animals, not therapy or companion or other kind of animals.

Legislation has a different standard for therapy animals, which while they may be allowed in housing where a disabled person lives, are not given the same legal access outside a disabled person's home that a service animal is given.



I'm wondering though, now that miniature horses have their hooves in the door so to speak, how much longer before they start gently shouldering canine companions out of the way altogether? Are miniature horses positioning themselves, perhaps, to become the new version of 'man's best friend'?



Granted, they won't fit into a bejeweled, designer handbag the way some dogs can - at least not yet. Given however, that the miniature horses being trained for service are weighing 100 pounds or less, how far away are we from the day of real pocket ponies?





How much longer before miniature horses try hoofing over Dalmatians as the preferred companion for fire houses? Then we begin the long, slippery slope into miniature horse herds guarding warehouses, trampling invaders just as their Hollywood predecessors used to stampede cowboys in the Western movies of yesteryear...and displacing the longstanding strong hold of 'guard dog duty' that canines have previously held a monopoly on.






 Miniature horses will then try nosing the Labrador, Beagle, Shepherds etc.  out of work sniffing for smuggled goods in baggage and illicit materials in vehicles crossing the boarder.





Yes, it may just be a matter of time - one morning you're going to wake up and find that your loving Fido has been replaced by a four legged friend of a different variety. And when that day comes, remember we warned you of it here first.







P.S. - Did you know that dogs are sometimes available for adoption after retiring from service, or after they begin service dog training but are in some small way not suitable to enter service life? Did you know that volunteers help raise many guide dogs for the first year of their lives, assisting them to prepare for being good canine citizens?
Did you know you, or an organization that you volunteer with, can sponsor a guide dog in training?
Food for thought as we help support our canine friends in their battle to not be replaced by horses....







17 comments:

  1. I'm flashing on a miniature horse snuggling up to me on the couch or curling up under the covers of my bed at night. I think the dog's position is pretty safe as BFF. :)

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    1. :-) I've seen pictures - some people are already curling up with their horses!


      [I like a little tongue in cheek blogging once in awhile....]

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  2. I don't agree with it, what health problems are associated with breeding horses so small, look what's happening with dogs having breathing problems and other ailments, Wolves didn't have all these health problems because they were untouched by human hands, I say leave nature as intended and stop interfering.

    Sheba.

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    1. Interestingly (and my inner nerd has a chance to get out again) the horse started out as a 'dog sized' animal. While I agree that we shouldn't mess around with animal genetics too much, smaller horses were around long before really big horses were. We actually messed around with horse genetics a lot to create draft horses capable of doing the work we needed them to do....

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    2. Thank you for clearing that up, i don't know anything about horses and never realised they started out small.

      Sheba.

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  3. my late dad once met a service mini horse and was very impressed

    urban hounds

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    1. Very cool :-) There aren't any working service horses in our area yet...but my friend recently met one and was also impressed.

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  4. Hmmm.... you're right of course (about we humans changing what was once a small creature into something we liked better.) I've seen a service horse, but I just wonder if they're as helpful as dogs. I cannot imagine relying on any of my horses to follow through on a command EVERY TIME. That may say something about me and my horses... ;-) I dunno about all this...

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  5. Why can't there be room for both service dogs and service miniature horses? You say the horses may better serve certain disabilities, so why can't those be the focus for them and leave the rest to the dogs? I cannot imagine that those min horses would ever completely replace service dogs...we are so much more cuddly - providing both physical and emotional assistance.
    Oz

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    1. I would agree - both have a place in the world - I would even go so far as to predict that eventually they may be joined by service monkeys.

      Some mobility impaired people require a service monkey like a trained Capuchin; if this group had a stronger lobby group I think they would have been included with horses, in the current exception to "dog" in the recognition of valid service animls.

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  6. When we lived in HI last year, we saw many miniature horses. Amazing but they still looks bigger. Golden Woofs

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    1. I didn't realize that Hawaii was a land of mini-horses!
      Comparing the size of mini-horses is almost like comparing the size of dogs - there is a very wide range and only the smaller horses are used for service animals.

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  7. I'm sorry my comment doesn't seem relevant, but I've been looking for that red and black harness (pictured here on the yellow lab). I have looked everywhere, I have Parkinson's, and balance and falling is my thing. Looks like it would be a good fit...if anyone happens to know, please contact me peoplesdebi@yahoo.com. I really appreciate it. I love this site, btw!

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  8. Don't mean to be anonymous...I'm Debi.

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    1. Hi Debi,
      One of the more affordable service-harnesses I've found is at activedog.com:
      http://www.activedogs.com/product/43/leather-heavy-duty-mobility-harness/#.VGkydvnF8rU

      good luck!

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  9. We often say that somebody is giving puppy eyes once requesting one thing they actually need. it's in dogs’ nature to beg, particularly once it involves food. The unhappiness in their eyes, the crying sound whereas he appearance at you chew your sandwich and numeration each bite you're taking. http://dogsaholic.com/training/dog-begging.html

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  10. Definitely raised awareness about service horses. Thanks.

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