Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Kyleigh. Kyleigh Wonders, “what does a service dog do?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Kyleigh!

Do you have a best friend? You might immediately think of one of your closest friends at school. But we’re talking about a different kind of best friend. In fact, we’re talking about an animal often called humankind’s best friend. What is it? The dog, of course!

It’s true, dogs can be great friends. They’re loyal, fun to play with, soft and furry, and great companions at any time of any day. Yet they can be so much more. Did you realize that dogs can have jobs?

No, we don’t mean dogs dress up in suits. They don’t go to work at the bank, the pharmacy, or the doctor’s office. Still, dogs can be trained to do some really incredible jobs.

When you think about working dogs, what comes to mind? Two of their most common jobs are guarding and watching. Guard dogs can be trained to guard and defend a particular territory, such as your home. Watch dogs can keep an eye out for intruders and alert others to their presence. Guard dogs and watch dogs are commonly used by the police and the military, as well.

Dogs have a keen sense of smell, which makes them great detectors. With the right training, detector dogs can learn to smell and alert their handlers to the presence of all sorts of things. This can include drugs, money, and explosives. At the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, a pup named Riley helps protect priceless art by sniffing out harmful bugs. Common breeds that make good detector dogs include labrador retrievers, beagles, and German shepherds.

Dogs’ keen noses also make them fantastic tracking and hunting dogs. They smell and track down animals for hunters. They can also help search and rescue teams find missing persons. Dogs can also use their noses to help humans forage for food, such as truffles.

Search and rescue dogs are often used in the aftermath of disasters. They help locate victims who may be lost amid the rubble of an earthquake, for example. Specialized avalanche dogs can help find and rescue skiers who get caught in an unexpected avalanche.

Herding dogs help to keep groups of animals, such as sheep, ducks, cows, and goats, together in large pastures. For example, the Sami people of the Arctic Circle have long used dogs to herd reindeer. In addition to keeping track of the groups, these dogs also often protect them from predators, such as wolves and coyotes.

Some of the most interesting working dogs are those that help people with disabilities. They can help people who are blind stay safe when moving around. They can also alert owners who are hearing impaired to ringing phones and sounding alarms. Therapy dogs are often used in nursing homes and similar facilities to brighten the day of residents.

Have you ever met a working dog? Always remember it’s important not to bother canines while they’re at work. It can be tempting to give them a quick pet or toss a ball their way. But these dogs are working hard at a job they’ve trained hard for! Admire from afar as humankind’s best friends carry out their important tasks.

Standards: CCRA.L.3, CCRA.L.6, CCRA.R.1, CCRA.R.2, CCRA.R.4, CCRA.R.10, CCRA.SL.1

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Tomorrow's Wonder of the Day is furry and fast as lightning!