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Megan Leavey

We all know dogs are (hu)man's best friend.

Our pets keep us company, take us on adventures, and teach us about unconditional love. In return, we give them food and shelter and train them to do silly things.

[rebelmouse-image 19527711 dam="1" original_size="376x237" caption="This mutt does a mean "roll over."" expand=1]This mutt does a mean "roll over."


But service and working dogs take their relationship with humans a step further — these pups are trained with skills that can save lives. Did you know that some dogs can detect allergens in your food? And get help in an emergency situation?

Here are 13 impressive things service and working dogs can be trained to do that help save lives:

1. Smell blood sugar levels.

When blood sugar levels change, the human body releases chemicals that dogs can smell. Diabetic-alert dogs are trained to smell when their partner's blood sugar level is dangerously off and to let them know that action is needed to get those levels back in the safe zone.

Luke, a boy with Type 1 diabetes, has a diabetic-alert dog named Jedi, who alerted him to low glucose levels:

Good low Jedi. #diabeticalertdog

A post shared by Luke and Jedi (@lukeandjedi) on

2. Find a person buried in an avalanche.

If you're ever caught in an avalanche, having a dog on the search-and-rescue team could drastically increase your chances of survival. An avalanche dog can search 2.5 acres in 30 minutes. (It would take a team of humans up to four hours to cover the same ground.) These skilled canines sniff the snow for a pool of human scent; when they find it, they alert their handler and start digging.

Keena the avalanche pup is training in Colorado:

SEARCH! #puppyintraining #avydog #drive #rocket #chickenhawk #imgoingtogetyou @ruffwear @avyinstitute @grandtargheeresort

A post shared by Keena The Avalanche Pup (@keenatheavalanchepup) on

3. Alert you to the sound of a fire alarm.

Hearing dogs are trained to assist people who are deaf or hard of hearing. These pups alert their partners to a wide variety of sounds: a door knock, a spoken name, an alarm clock, a fire alarm, and more.

Like any service dog, hearing dogs require years of committed training to perform their tasks. But even these furballs — like Sophie the collie/lab mix — need a little down time!

4. Support someone who has PTSD.

A post-traumatic stress disorder service dog can detect early signs of anxiety then nudge, paw, lick, and generally distract their human from potential triggers in the environment, giving their partner a chance to regain control.

5. Detect changes in blood pressure.

When a person's blood pressure or heartbeat changes rapidly, a cardiac-alert dog can warn the person of this danger. Without this signal, people with conditions like dysautonomia risk passing out (among many other complications) due to severe blood pressure changes.

Here, medical-alert dog Blaine cuddles with his handler:

Don't know what I would do without him 💙

A post shared by Nicole & Blaine Reynolds (@stilllifewithblaine) on

6. Get help in an emergency situation.

Many service dogs can be trained to summon help in an emergency situation, whether it's finding another person to assist their human or using a special phone to call 911.

7. Protect people during seizures.

Some seizure dogs are trained to alert their handler before a seizure (similar to a cardiac-alert dog) while others respond a certain way during or after a seizure — such as barking for help, moving away certain objects that could be dangerous, or protecting their human as they collapse.

This adorable mug belongs to Riley, a seizure-alert and response dog:

8. Deliver medical supplies to injured soldiers.

During World War I, "mercy dogs" were trained to search a battlefield for wounded soldiers. The dogs carried packs with medical supplies that soldiers could use to treat their own injuries. Some dogs were trained to retrieve a handler to assist the injured soldier.

Below, Lt. Col. Edwin H. Richardson poses with Red Cross war dogs during World War I:

[rebelmouse-image 19527712 dam="1" original_size="1024x743" caption="Image via Library of Congress." expand=1]Image via Library of Congress.

9. Detect potential allergens in food.

Some people don't like peanuts. Some people go into anaphylactic shock and risk serious health complications or even death if they touch peanuts.

For the latter, allergy detection dogs can be trained to sniff out allergens like peanuts, milk, soy, latex, or other substances. The pup can alert their human of the danger or even block the person from going near the allergen.

10. Support someone with autism.

Autism service dogs provide crucial companionship for their partners, and some are trained to alert and respond to certain triggers. For example, if a human has trouble with anxiety or sensory processing, their pup can provide calming comfort by lying on top of them — a technique called "deep pressure therapy."

Ultron, an autism service dog in training, helps his partner Axton navigate the world more confidently and independently:

They make a great team! ❤️🐶 #servicedog #autismservicedog #ateamforever #greatdaneservicedog #aboyandhisdog #skyzone #greatdane

A post shared by Journey of Ultron and Axton (@journeyofultronandaxton) on

11. Guide a person who is visually impaired.

Guide dogs are loyal pups who are trained to help those who are blind or visually impaired physically navigate the world. Humans have been training dogs for this purpose for centuries, and the practice of dogs helping guide people is actually so old that we'll never really know how or when it began.

This little guide dog in training, Smudge, isn't quite big enough for her harness yet:

12. Sniff out explosives.

Bomb-sniffing dogs alert their handler if they smell even a small amount of explosives. These dogs are common in the military, but they also save lives working with organizations like the United Nations Mine Action Service. UNMAS uses mine detection dogs to de-mine conflict-heavy places, including Colombia and Sudan.

13. Provide physical balance and support.

Brace and mobility service dogs help their humans physically get around by opening doors, picking things up off the ground, helping their partners up from a fall, providing counterbalancing or bracing while walking, and more.

Here you can clearly see service dog Kaline's mobility harness:

People tend to talk about how fortunate dogs are to have devoted humans looking out for them. We spend years training them and thousands of dollars on food, vet visits, cute outfits (don't deny it), and treats — the list goes on.

But as lucky as dogs are to have us, we're infinitely more lucky to have them sticking with us every step of the way.

Joy

1991 blooper clip of Robin Williams and Elmo is a wholesome nugget of comedic genius

Robin Williams is still bringing smiles to faces after all these years.

Robin Williams and Elmo (Kevin Clash) bloopers.

The late Robin Williams could make picking out socks funny, so pairing him with the fuzzy red monster Elmo was bound to be pure wholesome gold. Honestly, how the puppeteer, Kevin Clash, didn’t completely break character and bust out laughing is a miracle. In this short outtake clip, you get to see Williams crack a few jokes in his signature style while Elmo tries desperately to keep it together.

Williams has been a household name since what seems like the beginning of time, and before his death in 2014, he would make frequent appearances on "Sesame Street." The late actor played so many roles that if you were ask 10 different people what their favorite was, you’d likely get 10 different answers. But for the kids who spent their childhoods watching PBS, they got to see him being silly with his favorite monsters and a giant yellow canary. At least I think Big Bird is a canary.

When he stopped by "Sesame Street" for the special “Big Bird's Birthday or Let Me Eat Cake” in 1991, he was there to show Elmo all of the wonderful things you could do with a stick. Williams turns the stick into a hockey stick and a baton before losing his composure and walking off camera. The entire time, Elmo looks enthralled … if puppets can look enthralled. He’s definitely paying attention before slumping over at the realization that Williams goofed a line. But the actor comes back to continue the scene before Elmo slinks down inside his box after getting Williams’ name wrong, which causes his human co-star to take his stick and leave.

The little blooper reel is so cute and pure that it makes you feel good for a few minutes. For an additional boost of serotonin, check out this other (perfectly executed) clip about conflict that Williams did with the two-headed monster. He certainly had a way of engaging his audience, so it makes sense that even after all of these years, he's still greatly missed.

Noe Hernandez and Maria Carrillo, the owners of Noel Barber Shop in Anaheim, California.

Jordyn Poulter was the youngest member of the U.S. women’s volleyball team, which took home the gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics last year. She was named the best setter at the Tokyo games and has been a member of the team since 2018.

Unfortunately, according to a report from ABC 7 News, her gold medal was stolen from her car in a parking garage in Anaheim, California, on May 25.

It was taken along with her passport, which she kept in her glove compartment. While storing a gold medal in your car probably isn’t the best idea, she did it to keep it by her side while fulfilling the hectic schedule of an Olympian.

"We live this crazy life of living so many different places. So many of us play overseas, then go home, then come out here and train,” Poulter said, according to ABC 7. "So I keep the medal on me (to show) friends and family I haven't seen in a while, or just people in the community who want to see the medal. Everyone feels connected to it when they meet an Olympian, and it's such a cool thing to share with people."

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Memories of childhood get lodged in the brain, emerging when you least expect.

There are certain pleasurable sights, smells, sounds and tastes that fade into the rear-view mirror as we grow from being children to adults. But on a rare occasion, we’ll come across them again and it's like a portion of our brain that’s been hidden for years expresses itself, creating a huge jolt of joy.

It’s wonderful to experience this type of nostalgia but it often leaves a bittersweet feeling because we know there are countless more sensations that may never come into our consciousness again.

Nostalgia is fleeting and that's a good thing because it’s best not to live in the past. But it does remind us that the wonderful feeling of freedom, creativity and fun from our childhood can still be experienced as we age.

A Reddit user by the name of agentMICHAELscarnTLM posed a question to the online forum that dredged up countless memories and experiences that many had long forgotten. He asked a simple question, “What’s something you can bring up right now to unlock some childhood nostalgia for the rest of us?”

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