Could your Morkie be a service dog?

Could your Morkie be a service dog?

When we talk about dogs with jobs – specifically those who help humans – we’re really talking about three different roles.

And Morkies are ideal for at least one of those roles. Maybe YOUR Morkie is waiting to serve!

There are 3 kinds of dogs-with-jobs:

  1. The traditional Service Dog, often a German Shepherd or Lab
  2. Emotional Support Animals – not limited to dogs
  3. Therapy dogs – perfect role for a Morkie

Let’s look at each a little closer.

Service Dog

  • this is a highly trained assistant animal, meeting the needs of someone whose disability is easy to prove, such as blindness or deafness – these dogs are trained for a specific owner
  • some Service Dogs can detect medical conditions such as seizures
  • medical OK is needed for “Service Dog” status
  • the dog is intensively trained for at least 2 years
  • typically Service Dogs are Labs, Golden Retrievers and German Shepherds although any breed can be a service dog if trained well. In fact, there are a number of miniature horses trained as service animals!
  • (only trained and certified Service Dogs are protected under anti-discrimination laws in most countries – Emotional Support Animals and Therapy Dogs are not)


This miniature horse is a wonderful service animal to the man in the wheelchair

Emotional Support Animal (ESA)

  • companion to people who have a psychological disability such as panic attacks or post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • this disability must be recognizable, and be identified by a medical professional, so it’s not just ‘cause I said so
  • however, the support the animal provides to his owner, is the companionship
  • an ESA doesn’t typically have intensive training to serve, and isn’t necessarily as highly trained as a Service Dog
  • ESA dogs are not officially classified as Service Dogs (but under the lawy, they can go on airplanes with owners)

Therapy Dog

  • can be used to provide comfort and affection to many different people in hospitals, retirement homes, nursing homes and disaster areas
  • the therapy dog can provide comfort to any number of people just by being there
  • they are not assistance dogs or service dogs but some dogs can be both
  • some organizations require that a dog pass the equivalent of the American Kennel Club’s Canine Good Citizen test
  • in Canada St. John Ambulance provides therapy dog certification
  • in the UK Pets as Therapy (PAT) provides visiting dogs and cats to organizations where they aren’t otherwise allowed


See what the University of British Columbia is doing with therapy dogs: 

Therapy dogs such as Morkies


How to develop your Morkie into a Therapy Dog

If your Morkie has the personality, he’s needed!


Can your Morkie pass the requirements to be a Therapy Dog?

Therapy Dogs must be confident, friendly, patient and gentle in all situations.

Besides a great personality, your dog must be:

  • accepting of a friendly stranger
  • be able to sit calmly to be petted
  • walk on a loose leash
  • walk through a crowd, including getting around wheelchairs and canes
  • follow the sit, stay and come commands
  • react well to another dog
  • be able to handle distractions such as noise
How happy would someone be to have a visit from this Morkie therapy dog?

How happy would someone be to have a visit from this Morkie therapy dog?

Typically, you’ll need to pass a criminal check; take a course or two (at no cost) and register with an organization, often for a small fee to cover costs.

If you think you want to share your Morkie’s love, with people who really need it, please consider the Therapy Dog program. Google “local therapy dog groups”; most post very helpful information on what’s required, the possible postings for therapy dogs and what the handler must know or learn. They’re always looking for good volunteers.

The First Therapy Dog?

Smoky the Yorkshire Terrier, WWII. Believed to be the first ever therapy dog.

Smoky the Yorkshire Terrier, WWII. Believed to be the first ever therapy dog.

Many (including Animal Planet researchers) believe that Smoky, the war hero dog from WWII, was the first therapy dog.

Found wandering in the jungles of New Guinea by an American soldier, Smoky was a full grown 4 pound female Yorkshire Terrier. Not able to find the owner, eventually Smoky turned over as winnings in a card game, won by American Corporal William Wynne. (Value: about $6)

She served with Wynne for almost 2 years, living in primitive conditions, running on coral in equatorial heat and surviving on army rations. Smoky was so smart and easily trained, that she performed many valuable functions for the army.

Just one example came during the building of a crucial airfield in Luzon, an island in the south Pacific. Smoky carried a telegraph wire through a 70-foot-long pipe that was 8 inches in diameter. Soil had sifted through the corrugated sections at the pipe joints, filling as much as half of the pipe, giving Smoky only four inches of headway in some places. But she did it.

That one job alone saved 250 men from having to dig a trench out in the (dangerous) open, across the flightpath. It also saved them moving 40 airplanes off the tarmac.

During her service, Smoky even parachuted!

Smoky and Wynn

Smoky and Corp. Wynn

After the war, Smoky was so talented, that Corp. Wynne began taking her to see wounded veterans in hospital. One of her first visits was to the Mayo Clinic where she cheered up servicemen. She soon became a regular visitor, as doctors noted her positive effect on the patients.

Smoky also appeared on more than 42 live TV shows without ever once repeating a trick.

She worked as a therapy dog until her death at the age of 14. Wynne and his family put her to rest in a World War II .30 caliber ammo box in the Cleveland Metroparks, Rocky River Reservation in Lakewood, Ohio.

Maltese mix dog helps really sick kids

Maltese mix dog helps really sick kids

McKenzie the therapy dog

McKenzie the therapy dog

Could your small dog be a therapy dog?

Mackenzie the dog offers children at New York Presbyterian Hospital unconditional love!

Here’s a really heartwarming story: small dogs being deployed to support and even heal sick children.  McKenzie the Maltese is just one of the many small dogs who perform this important, and amazing function.

We often think of therapy dogs as Golden Retrievers…. who doesn’t love a Golden? But dogs of all sizes and breeds, and even “unbreeds” are doing great work with children and adults, providing affection and comfort in time of need.

The first recorded therapy dog was a Yorkie

Smoky 3

The first therapy dog – Smoky the Yorkie from World War II

Smoky was a famous Yorkshire Terrier, found wandering in the jungles of the island of New Guinea during World War II. Corporal William Wynne won this little pup during  a card game, and before you know it, she was contributing to the war effort. Part of the U.S. Army’s Signal Corps, Smoky did lots of important missions – for example, she helped run an underground cable through a tunnel, saving soldiers days of labour and dangerous exposure to the enemy.

After the War, Col. Wynne brought Smoky home, and the pair began visiting hospitals, hoping to cheer up patients.  Dr. Charles Mayo, of the famed Mayo Clinic, noted the positive effect little Smoky had… and so for the next 12 years, she worked with sick, handicapped and palliative-care patients, bringing joy wherever she went!

Therapy Dogs Aren’t Service Dogs

Therapy dogs aren’t the same as Service Dogs; they don’t have the same access to public areas, restaurants, etc.  Therapy Dogs do undergo rigorous training however; and of course must have an exceptional personality.

To learn more about Therapy Dogs and see if YOUR MORKIE could be one, please visit –

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