The first reference found for guide dogs was in the late 16th century, with a line in a popular alphabet verse "...B is for Blind-Man / led by a dog..." In the 19th century guide dogs are mentioned in Elizabeth Barrett Browning's verse novel Aurora Leigh, by the title character, "Blind man walks wherever the dog pulls, and so I answered."
Today the role of a service dog has grown to help the disabled with many tasks, Dogs and other service animals are able to help with banking, assist in daily chores and routines and help the deaf and hard of hearing. There are therapy animals that can help people become aware of an oncoming seizure, or provide comfort during times of stress, such as dogs sent to comfort the students returning to school after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary. Soldiers returning home with disabilities and the effects of PTSD have also found comfort through their therapy animals.
The Santa Clara County Library District also has a children's program, Reading Buddies where school children can read to service dogs, allowing children to practice their reading skills while getting used to dogs. The dogs also get used to small children and get to hear some wonderful stories!