While all pets help to enrich people’s lives, service dogs have an even higher purpose: They’re trained to perform specific functions like helping people find, reach, or use tools or objects, or alerting their owners to an oncoming seizure or other trouble. Although most people think of service dogs as big, burly dogs, they can be tiny too! What's more, they can even be rescues — like Mason, an abandoned chihuahua who was given a second shot at life, and is now giving back in a huge way.
Mason the Service Dog is a service dog in training, working hard to learn the necessary skills. As part of his training, his mom is patiently teaching him special commands and tricks. Mason took a few minutes out of his busy schedule to talk to us about how he got started as a service dog, which other job he would be interested in, and what superpower he’d most want.
Hi Mason! What made you decide upon this career?
I originally wanted to be a superhero and save the world. Mom said that was an unrealistic career goal, so becoming a service dog was was a close second.
What's your favorite part of training to become a service dog?
I love to learn new things. Whether it is a new task to help my mom or just working to improve my manners and obedience out in public, training never stops.
Your Facebook page also describes you as an agility Chihuahua. Compared, say, to a turtle or a cheetah, how fast do you think you are?
Well, I've never raced a cheetah before, but the turtle in the backyard doesn't stand a chance against me!
When you're not training to become a service dog, how do you enjoy spending your free time?
When I am not working, you can usually find me chasing a ball or chewing on my bully stick. Anything to stay active! I am 6 pounds of endless energy!
How did your owners react when you told them you wanted to become a service dog and help people?
Mom was a little unsure about how I would be able to handle the stress of this job due to my small size and late start with training. She was still supportive of my decision and does everything she can to help me succeed at being the best service dog I can be!
If you could have a superpower, what superpower would you want and why?
I would want the power to shrink myself even smaller! Sometimes my ball gets stuck under the couch and I can't quite reach it on my own. So when no one else is around to hear my howling, the struggle is real.
If you weren't training to become a service dog, is there any other career that you'd be interested in pursuing?
If I wasn't a service dog, I think I would be interested in professional male dog modeling.
What makes you unique among service dogs?
I am unique because I am not what most people picture when they think of a service dog. There are very few chihuahuas out there who can manage the job I do. Nearly all of my tasks have have to be modified to accommodate my size and still be performed in a way that is helpful to my mom.
If you could invent your own dog toy, what kind of dog toy would you want?
If I could invent any toy, I would invent a ball that rolled on its own. That way, the game of fetch never has to end!
The life of a service dog involves helping others. What advice would you give to the world so that people would be more motivated to help other people?
My advice is to just be kind to everyone you meet. Everyone out there is fighting a battle you don't know anything about. The person who cut you off in traffic could be rushing to the hospital to say their last goodbyes to a loved one. Or the girl who always sits in the back of the classroom and never speaks to anyone could have a debilitating fear of being around people she has never met. Always remember that not all disabilities are visible and something as simple as smiling and saying hi to someone could turn their entire day around.