The Wonderful Golden

As versatile as he is beautiful, the Golden Retriever is a dog of many talents. Not only is he a wonderful companion but he is depended on in so many ways. With his dedication and love for people, he is a true friend that is loyal, trustworthy and hardworking:

Note: For additional information on these and other sports, activities, and dog jobs, see: the Dog Sports and Activities and the Working Dogs sections of the Canada's Guide to Dogs website.


Guide Dogs

A Guide Dog provides mobility and independence to the visually-impaired user. Some of the qualities required to make a good guide dog are: a quiet and calm disposition, a high level of initiative, a high level of concentration while working, a high level of willingness to work and a strong desire to please.

The most successful guide dogs often come from lines bred specifically for these traits and the most common breeds used in assisting the visually-impaired are the Golden Retriever and the Labrador Retriever. Their intelligence, size and temperament make them ideal candidates to work as guide dogs.

In Canada, all provinces have adopted specific statutes to grant guide dog users the right of access. In most provinces, the statutes specifically state that no special conditions, terms, or fees can be imposed on a guide dog user because of the presence of a guide dog.

For more information, see the Working Dogs section of the Canada's Guide to Dogs website.

Hearing Dogs

Hearing dogs alert a person who is deaf or hearing-impaired to sounds. They create a safer and easier life for their handler by alerting them to such sounds as the doorbell, the telephone ringing, a baby crying, the smoke alarm, passing traffic, or an alarm clock.

Hearing Dogs are trained professionally for a minimum of three months. They are trained to recognize, then physically alert or lead their handler to the source of the sound. They must be trained in basic obedience skills, focused and non-aggressive. Several breeds are used for working in this area but again, the Golden Retriever is an ideal candidate due to his natural desire to please and excellent disposition.

For more information, see the Working Dogs section of the Canada's Guide to Dogs website.

Service Dogs

Service Dogs need to have the confidence and docile nature of a guide dog but also have a strong retrieving instinct. These dogs are trained to assist those with mobility limitations through a wide variety of tasks such as turning light switches on and off, opening and closing doors, retrieving items, pulling wheel chairs. Relatively new are programs training "specialty" dogs to detect the onset of seizures in those suffering with epilepsy as well as assisting with other specific conditions or diseases like Parkinsons and Autism.

National Service Dogs has been training Labrador and Golden Retrievers to assist the parents of children with Autism. They were the first Canadian Assistance Dog School to successfully pair dogs with children who have Autism. Clients as young as five have been matched with dogs specifically trained to meet their specific needs and challenges.

For more information, see the Working Dogs section of the Canada's Guide to Dogs website, as well as the following links:

- National Service Dogs
- Pacific Assistance Dogs Society

Social and Therapy Dogs

The benefits of human-animal interaction have been clearly proven, and Social and Therapy dogs come in all shapes and sizes, pure breeds, mixed breeds, and naturally Goldens as well. Several organizations promote the training of dogs just for visiting or "meeting and greeting" at schools, nursing homes, rehabilitation centres and hospitals. A Therapy Dog provides comfort and companionship. Animal-assisted therapy is accepted as a therapeutic intervention which promotes positive and beneficial health effects. A dog can often work wonders in bringing happiness or comfort where other therapies have failed. People who have shown no interest for living can suddenly and without provocation, reach out for the friendly paw of man's best friend.

There is no specific training for Therapy dogs, however, they do require obedience skills, must have a love for people, be well socialized, even-tempered, and submissive. In addition, a Therapy dog must be certified as such and should not be of a breed that sheds excessively.

For more information, see the Working Dogs section of the Canada's Guide to Dogs website, as well as the following links:

- Ottawa Therapy Dogs
- Pet Therapy Sociey of Northern Alberta
- Therapy Dogs Incorporated, First St. John's Chapter
- La Société de zoothérapie de Drummondville

Detection and Police Dogs

As mine detectors, dogs are now being used because of their extremely acute sense of smell, allowing them to be trained to detect traces of explosives and to locate trip wires.

They are trained as Accelerant Detection Dogs to search a fire scene thus reducing the amount of hours expended by fire investigators. These dogs sniff out traces of gas or other flammable liquids in arson situations. Arson Dogs are invaluable because they can pinpoint traces of arson more efficiently than any electronic detection device. In fact, their amazing noses can smell traces about the size of a thousandth of a drop! Estimates show that approximately two hundred accelerant detection canine teams are operating in the United Sates alone.

Goldens are also trained to detect narcotics, oil or gas pipeline leaks, explosives/weapons/ammunition, and toxic waste, as well as illegal foods and plants that travellers try to smuggle internationally.

In the same way that dogs are trained to sniff out narcotics, they are also successfully used to detect explosives. With the recent surge in domestic terrorism, bomb dogs are in high demand. These heroic dogs save lives by quickly searching out buildings, leaving bomb squads with more time to clear explosive devices.

Drug traffickers are finding increasingly sophisticated ways of hiding drugs for transport. The scenting ability of the Police Drug Dog often provides the only hope of locating illegal narcotics. Drug Dogs have proven so successful that they now work in many airports, bus stations, border crossings, and sea ports. These dogs are trained to sniff out drugs, then alert authorities by either scratching at the surface near the source of the smell or sitting down next to the source. Such a signal from a sniffer dog gives police probable cause necessary to search luggage or vehicles.

For more information, see the Working Dogs section of the Canada's Guide to Dogs website.

Search and Rescue

Several breeds are trained as Search and Rescue dogs (SAR Dogs) but they all must go through extensive training and, like the Labrador Retriever, the natural retrieving instincts, endurance, scenting ability and "team" mentality of the Golden Retriever makes him a prime candidate as a SAR Dog.

These are multi-purpose dogs, used in a variety of circumstances - urban and wilderness settings to locate missing persons, in situations following a disaster such as a hurricane, as well as in collapsed structures, after a avalanche or landslide. SAR dogs are also used for the recovery of cadavers and evidence search.

SAR dogs can be trained to detect the scent of shed skin particles from humans, dead or alive, and follow this scent to its source from long distances. "Air scent" dogs depend primarily, but not solely, on airborne scent in their search. The term "trailing" dog generally refers to the ability to "scent discriminate" or find a particular person. The dogs are taught the necessary skills as a "game" of increasing difficulty, in partnership with their handler.

For more information, see the Working Dogs section of the Canada's Guide to Dogs website.

Dog Sports and Activities

Golden Retrievers are retrievers by nature. They are also active, sporting dogs and enjoy a wide variety of dog sports and activities, including: the Show ring; competitive Obedience; Agility; Flyball; Flying Disc; Field Trials; Tracking; and much more. For additional information on the many sports and activities that you can get involved in with your Golden, see the Clubs, Sports and Activities section of the Canada's Guide to Dogs website.

Companion

Last but not least in this listing, the Golden Retriever makes an excellent companion. With his wonderful disposition, his desire to please, his outgoing nature, his trainability, he makes a wonderful friend and family member. He is playful, loving, hardworking, people oriented, kind and patient with children.

He is truly a Wonderful Golden!