iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Meet Harlow, a golden retriever from Florida who has been amazing social media users on Instagram and YouTube with videos of her neat tricks.
The 15-month-old pup can clean up her own toys, do laundry, and even open the fridge to grab a water bottle for her owner.
But Harlow’s tricks aren’t just for show. They actually help Harlow’s owner, 20-year-old Jaquie Blake, who has eight chronic illnesses, including postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS), Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS), narcolepsy and epilepsy.
Harlow has been picking up the tricks as part of her training to become a fully fledged medical alert and service dog for Blake, who told ABC News today that her chronic illnesses frequently cause her pain, dizziness, nausea and weakness.
The symptoms make it difficult, at times, to do tasks as simple as bending over to pick something up, Blake explained.
“When I’m having a dizzy spell or pain flare, it’s really helpful that Harlow can grab things or put things away for me,” she said. Blake added that she often has fainting spells and that Harlow can even tell when a severe episode could happen.
“If she senses something is really wrong, she’ll plant her head on my lap to make sure I don’t stand up,” she said. “Or if I’m standing, she’ll repeatedly poke me with her nose to get down on the floor.”
And though Harlow gets plenty of time to “have fun” and “just be a family dog” at home, Blake said it’s important for people not to treat Harlow like a pet when she’s out working as a service dog.
“If you see a service dog in public, you should treat it like a wheelchair,” she explained. “You never know when distracting them can put their handler’s life at risk.”
She added, “If you wouldn’t stare at or pet a wheelchair, you shouldn’t stare at or pet a service dog. And if you wouldn’t ask someone in a wheelchair why they have one, you shouldn’t ask someone with a service dog why they have one either.”
Blake has been documenting Harlow’s progress over the past year on social media, where videos of her tricks have impressed thousands of users.
The pup now has over 73,000 followers on Instagram and more than 1,200 subscribers on YouTube.
“It’s pretty awesome because it’s been such an effective way to spread more knowledge about service dogs and ‘invisible’ illnesses,” Blake said. “Not all disabilities, like the ones I have, are visible. And just because you can’t see them, doesn’t mean they are real or as serious.”
She added that’s she’s just glad to have Harlow, who “always has her back” and “who has been such a good friend to me.”
“Harlow has given me the confidence to leave my house and to know I’ll be safe, and that means the whole world,” Blake said.
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