There’s no bond quite like that between a service dog and its human.
The Americans with Disabilities Act defines service animals as “dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities.”
All dogs are special, but these hardworking pups are a little extra special: Trained service dogs assist with everything from calming their humans’ anxiety to alerting other people when their owners are in distress.
Below, we’ve pulled together 23 ridiculously adorable photos of service dogs doing what they do best: loving and caring for their people.
Entries have been edited for style and clarity.
"Dolly has helped me blossom into a new person. I have trouble feeling my left leg sometimes, and that makes it hard to have confidence to go out and do things by yourself. With Dolly, she helps me go out and accomplish things I never thought possible while staying safe.” — Kaitlyn Moore, Detector Dolly's mom (Follow Detector Dolly)
"Chiyo is trained to retrieve items for me that I drop or are out of my reach. I have a spinal injury that prevents me from doing many everyday tasks on my own, but Chiyo has helped me regain independence. He helps with my laundry, empties my dishwasher, takes out the garbage, guides me around obstacles, retrieves my medications, gets the mail, opens and closes doors, gets ingredients from the fridge for me, and so much more. We tackle everything we need to accomplish together, as a team, and have fun doing it! I am so thankful to Chiyo for giving me a second chance at life, for helping me to never give up, and for teaching me that when love is the link, there is nothing you can’t do." — Courtney Hume, Chiyo's mom (Follow Chiyo on Instagram)
"I often get judgment passed on me when people find out I use a service dog. 'She looks fine' or 'She never needed one beforehand' are comments I get a lot. But still, I know that without the help of my dog Lucille, I would not be living my fullest, most independent life. She has truly saved my life countless times, and every day, her eagerness to work brings so much joy into my world. My life truly rests in her four paws." — Alaina F., Lucille's mom (Follow Lucille on Instagram)
"This is my service dog, Troy-Bilt, a 3-year-old golden retriever from New Horizons Service Dogs
in DeLand, Florida. His presence alone is a huge relief during some of the scariest moments of my health. When doctors give negative reports, I always have a bright and shining face to turn to. He is my forever paw-tner." — Phoebe Marti, Troy-Bilt's mom
"My service dog, Tasmania, has brought so much light into my life, changing everything for me. He has taken the dark days and filled them with color, and the bright ones, he’s brought love and laughter. Before he became my partner in crime, I struggled daily to be able to complete simple, everyday tasks that any 20-something-year-old should be able to do without a bump in the road. I couldn’t go out without constantly worrying about the 'what if' of life that would creep up on me and consume my day in the blink of an eye.
Tasmania has given me my freedom back and has allowed me to live again, like a 21-year-old should do. He’s taken away the fear that comes with leaving the secure bubble of my bed and has shown me that I can take on the world as long as he is by my side. With Tasmania, I am safe, I am strong and I can achieve anything." — Savannah Descovich, Tasmania's mom (Follow Tasmania on Instagram)
"Kobi has opened up my life to many possibilities. He has given me my freedom back. I no longer leave the house in fear that my medical condition will control my daily life. I can go out safely knowing Kobi will alert and respond to my medical condition. I now feel safe and never alone because of Kobi." — Lexi Mollitoni, Kobi's mom (Follow Kobi on Instagram)
"How has Dexter changed my life? Dexter has been such a blessing in my life and has helped save my life multiple times. He has given me my freedom back and allowed me to continue my schooling at college and work toward being able to work and live without assistance. Trained to help me with my psychiatric disorders and my Type 1 diabetes, he is my lifeline, and I couldn't ask for a better service dog." — Volda Trom, Dexter's mom (Follow Dexter on Instagram)
"With Kern, my service dog, I am able to accomplish things on my own without constantly relying on another human. It makes me feel so relieved that I don’t have to put this pressure on all of my relationships; I don’t feel like a burden anymore. The amount of friends I have gained from having Kern is incredible; his personality and capabilities are so intriguing to people. I love how he has given us a voice in the service dog and disabled community. We’re happy to be advocates. I would not be able to pursue the life I want and deserve without Kern. He’s my gateway to accomplishing every goal I have." — Kendall Shelby, Kern's mom
"Without my service dog River, I would end up in the hospital every week or so. With his help, I can go away to university and live my life fully without the fear of having to take a ride in an ambulance. From medical alerts to mobility assistance for my Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, he truly is a lifesaver! I couldn't imagine a life without him." — Natalie Knurek, River's mom
"While Tesla is still in training, she has already significantly changed my life for the better. When I have her out with me in public places (with permission, since she is not a full-fledged service dog yet) I feel much more safe, as I know that she will come to my aid should I fall ill with the symptoms of my mental illness. She has helped me to regain my freedom as a person. I can now do those everyday things that my mental illness has prevented me from completing." — Crystal Shain, Tesla's human (Follow Tesla on Instagram)
"This here is Lucky. He is my service dog for a variety of health problems, but he is more than just a dog. Lucky is my freedom. Without him, I was homebound. Lucky has transformed my life in the best possible ways! With him, I can push far past my limits, go places alone without fear and exert myself knowing I have help right there if I need it. Lucky is beyond 'just a dog.' Lucky is my hero." — Emily Maeder, Lucky's mom (Follow Lucky on Instagram)
"On March 3, 2016, my little brother died. He was my absolute best friend in the world, and Rocket's original human. He passed away in my arms, with Rocket right beside us the whole time. Rocket was devastated by the loss of John David almost as much as I was. Now, not only does Rocket help me when it comes to my issues and anxiety, but every time I look down, I get to see my brother’s best friend. I see the dog that brought so much joy to my little brother and made him smile on his worst days. Not only does Rocket act as a service animal that helps me tremendously with my day-to-day life, he is a part of my brother that I still have with me." — Celia Scrivener, Rocket's mom
"Where do I begin with how my boys have helped me in my everyday life? I suffer from a handful of debilitating health issues, some which would leave me completely bed-bound without my boys. Sebastian (the smaller dog) has been my service dog for about five years now and has given me my freedom back. Noden (the larger pup) is in training to become my next service dog once Sebastian retires.
These guys are medical alert service dogs. This means that they can detect chemical changes going on in my body and tell me when to either rest or medicate, depending on which illness it is. For example, I suffer from chronic debilitating migraines. Both can detect if I’m about have one before it affects me so I can take my medications to block out the migraine. These boys are so important to me and give me so much independence I wouldn’t have otherwise." — Anne Joyce-Grove, Sebastian and Noden' mom (Follow Sebastian and Noden on Instagram)
"This is Boo, my 8-year-old shiba inu. I have Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, arthritis, fibromyalgia and permanent shoulder subluxations (no backpacks or purses for me!). Without Boo, I’d be housebound most days of the week. She alerts to my chronic pain, carries what I can’t and makes space for me in public so no one bumps into me and dislocates something." — Larissa Stanton, Boo's mom
"I have seizures, tachycardia, hypotension and anxiety, among other things, and Tazz alerts me to all those things. He is so in tune to me, it’s unbelievable! He has saved my life multiple times! He positions me safely when I’m unconscious, calls attention to the situation and gets help. Because of him, I have some sense of comfort, peace and freedom! I can now do things knowing that if anything is going to happen, I will have warning and will be able to take appropriate action." — Aly C, Tazz's mom
"Buttercup was picked up off the streets and going to be put down before she was rescued by Paw Prints in the Sand,
where they saw potential in her to be more than just a pet. When she came to me, I wasn’t able to leave the house because I had no warnings before episodes would happen and I’d get sicker every time.
She changed my life for so many reasons. She gave me the freedom to be able to leave the house again with confidence. If an episode were to happen, she would let me know and I could get to a safe place before it happened. If it wasn’t for her, I probably still wouldn’t have the freedom to go out, especially by myself. My family now has full confidence that I can be left alone as long as Buttercup is by my side. That’s a freedom I didn’t think I would have before Buttercup came into my life. It's really a 'who rescued who?' situation." — Jordon O., Buttercup's dad
"Aurora is being trained in medical alert and response for my tachycardia issues, hypermobility disorder and mental health disabilities. She has alerted me many times before I pass out, which gives me some extra time to find a safe place to lay down. I was going through major depression due to my health problems, and once Aurora entered my life, it feels like she's given me purpose again; although I'm in pain, she shows me I can feel." — Ashrae Dewitt, Aurora's mom (Follow Aurora on Instagram)
Ayden Jude Rose
"This is Lux Basil, my owner-trained medical alert and response service dog. I live with many chronic illnesses, and since having Lux in my life, I feel more independent and empowered. The main tasks Lux performs to mitigate my disabilities are: alerting to a rise in my pain level, grounding me by bringing me back to reality if I disassociate from high pain levels. He is also trained to perform DPT (deep pressure therapy) in response to my PTSD, autism or anxiety. I can't imagine my life without my partner." — Ayden Jude Rose, Lux Basil's mom
"I've never loved someone so wholeheartedly as Sansa. I have mental illnesses, and Sansa allows me to walk freely without fear of the world around me. She alerts me of incoming panic attacks, provides compression therapy throughout the attack, and will elevate my legs when I become faint. Since she's been professionally trained, I never have to face my most vulnerable moments alone." — Sansa's mom
"I had heard before Antares arrived that service dogs give you freedom. It's no joke. She knows what my body is doing before I do. Every day, she surprises me with new ways to help me. When my body fails, she steps in. When I have her by my side, I feel unstoppable." — Noelle Riley, Antares' mom (Follow Antare on Instagram)
"Bindi has helped me immensely since starting service work. It takes a lot of time, hard work and money to train a service dog. But Bindi has proven that this is her job. She is task-trained to help mitigate my condition. Without her, I definitely would not be able to do some normal day-to-day activities. She’s more than my service dog; she’s my lifeline." — Sophie Finneron, Bindi's mom (Follow Bindi on Instagram)
"Stella was adopted by me and my partner Joe Borges
in 2017. Suffering from PTSD as a result of complications from a stroke he suffered two years ago, Joe struggles with night terrors, dissociative episodes and anxiety. Joe adopted Stella from a very special psychiatric service dog training program called Paws For Life
at California State Prison in Lancaster, and she has learned to alert Joe of his night terrors before they get out of control and help stop his dissociative episodes. She has given Joe his life back in many ways and has enriched it for the better." — Felice LaZae, Stella's mom
"I’ve been hard of hearing my whole life. Iris is the first pit bull I’ve ever owned and she has helped me in many ways. She's able to let me know if there’s something going on outside of my house and inform me, and detect high-pitched sounds that I could not hear at all with my hearing aids. I am so grateful for Iris and her duties. I feel safe going places with her and being at home as well. Iris has shown kindness and love as well as loyalty and commitment to her duties when she’s working." — Edith Barrientos, Iris' mom