Service Dog Column: This week, the pups will become ”underdogs”

by Carlene White

A fact: restaurant tables are usually around 30 inches high. Who cares? Our service dogs care, as they are expected to get under them if at all possible.

And how tall are our dogs? I am glad you asked. My many sophisticated studies went into this, starting with George W. Bush’s inseam (for lack of a better word).

Beginning in 2003, I was trying to design the ideal dog for the guys coming back from the war. 

One night, while I was watching the news, I noticed that as George W. Bush (#43) walked toward the camera, his knuckles were about the same distance from the floor as his inseam.

As I watched the various politicians line up in a row, it seemed to be fairly true that whether they crossed hands in front of them or let their arms hang by their side, they could hold a dog harness most conveniently if it was approximately the same height as their inseam.

I then needed to discover what the most common inseam size was. While at Costco, I saw they had just received a new batch of blue jeans.

The pile of 32-inch blue jeans was far higher than any other pile. Therefore, I assumed they were expecting to sell more 32-inch jeans than anything else.

That was enough for me.

The next gem of wisdom I got from an Amish woman in Pennsylvania who told me, “You will get more work out of an animal or person if the legs are half their height. You will never see a tall blacksmith.”

She was referring to not only the Belgian or Percheron draft horse, but also a potential husband. 

Through the years, I have noticed the better workhorses in the fields do have shorter legs than, for instance, the “leggy” beautiful Budweiser Clydesdales.

Our historic stud dogs, Thumper and Bentley, were exactly 32 inches tall with a 16-inch leg. We have added studs from Europe who tend to be of the “heavy duty” variety.

Which is why we now have to teach all the pups to duck under the 30-inch tables in restaurants. 

We also must teach them that if they are lifting the table as they stand up, then just don’t move, because a dog that is attached or tied to a moveable object could panic and run uncontrollably.

FYI: Only when talking about this, I usually say “crotch,” but thought that might not be politically correct…


Carlene White is founder and president of the non-profit Service Dog Project on Boxford Road in Ipswich. She trains and raises Great Danes to donate to the mobility impaired. Read more of her columns here.


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