Dogs in the D.C. area interrupt war veterans' nightmares, boost up people with limited mobility when they are about to fall, and help police track suspects and detect explosives.
News4 loves dogs with jobs. The people the dogs serve told us they are endlessly impressed by the animals' devotion and ability to learn.
A 3-year-old collie named Beam Me Up, Mr. Scott -- or Scotty, for short -- helps Maryland real estate agent Debbie Taylor cope with vertigo and mobility issues.
Scotty opens doors, turns lights on and off, fetches objects, pulls clothes out of the dryer and prevents Taylor from falling.
"If I'm walking and I start to fall, he leans against me and catches me. It amazes me that he knows," she said. "I wouldn't have a life without him. I would be living, but I wouldn't have a life."
Taylor, 65, spoke Wednesday at a service dog training session at Fidos for Freedom. The nonprofit based in Laurel, Maryland, has trained service and therapy dogs for nearly 30 years.
Here are the heartwarming stories of five more dogs with jobs:
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Meet Zara, a Police Dog Who Detects Explosives
Zara is one of seven highly trained dogs in the Alexandria, Virginia, police department's K-9 Unit. The 5-year-old Belgian Malinois works on patrol with Officer Steve Escobar and is trained to detect explosives.
The dogs in her unit help recover evidence, track suspects and sniff bombs.
"They do things a human couldn't. Their ability to detect things eclipses our own, Deputy Chief Chris Wemple III said.
He spoke as six officer-and-dog pairs in the K-9 Unit had their photos taken outside the station on a blazing hot afternoon earlier this month.
Sgt. Cindy Scott has worked with the dogs for the past seven years and supervised the unit for four years. The police canines seem to like to be useful, she said.
"All they want to do is please us. They prance. They're like, 'I did good. I'm so proud,'" Scott said.
The dogs work hard and are good at relaxing, too, she said.
"When they're at home, they're the biggest couch potatoes you could find," she said. "It’s amazing how they’re able to turn the switch off."
Meet Chauncey, a Service Dog Who Works With a Military Veteran
Chauncey is the service dog of an Army veteran who served in Iraq.
Brian McCrady's face lights up when he talks about his year-old English Labrador.
"I'm out of my shell again. I'm out in the world again," the 35-year-old said.
Chauncey helps McCrady handle post-traumatic stress disorder and a back injury, he said. He credits the dog with helping him lose 50 pounds and making him feel safer. Chauncey wakes him up if he's having a nightmare and is trained to provide deep pressure therapy, laying his weight on McCrady to soothe him.
"We just call it snuggles," McCrady said at Fidos for Freedom as the big dog climbed into his lap. "We all benefit from hugs, right?"
His service dog also is trained to lay at McCrady's feet to create additional personal space.
"We've taught him some 'blocking,' so he can create a barrier for me in a non-aggressive way," McCrady said.
Meet Wrigley and Roscoe, Service and Therapy Dogs in Training
As Wrigley and Roscoe turned 8 months old on Wednesday, they were learning to fetch objects of various textures.
"It's all about getting them comfortable with all sorts of things," veterinarian and longtime Fidos for Freedom volunteer Christy Shoup said.
Wrigley, an empress Labrador adopted from a breeder in Illinois, is living with her.
If the playful puppies progress in their training, they will continue for two-and-a-half years and eventually be paired with a Fidos for Freedom client.
Meet Ruby, a Service Dog Who Helps With Mobility Issues
Ruby can take off her owner Ann Dunn's shoes and socks, help her dress herself and drag a walker over to her. Dunn has lived with the 8-year-old Labrador for six years.
The dog sits quietly at her feet as she speaks. When Dunn moves to get up, Ruby stands alongside her so Dunn can brace herself on her back.