When I was first diagnosed with PTSD I didn't understand what it really meant. So like everyone that has access to the internet, I went home and started Googling. I started coming across a bunch of articles about military vets and the outcomes that they were having with service dogs. This took me a couple of weeks to compile everything. When I went back into see my Psychiatrist I asked her if she knew about service dogs for mental health challenges. She didn't know about them. I gave her all the research that I found. She said that she would review it and get back with me.
The next appointment she wrote me an order for a service dog. During this time I was googling where to get a service dog and the training. I live in Alaska, USA from what I found there weren't any companies up here that trained. All of the companies were in the lower 48, they had a five year wait list and the price was exorbitant. What the heck was I going to do? So I kept digging. I finally found a company here in Alaska.
I started training with the company. They had a pool of dogs that their consumers trained with. They had a great philosophy that they let their dogs pick who they wanted to work with. So every week I trained with different dogs. Every time I went in nothing clicked with the dogs and I. Then one day the cutest little Golden Retriever puppy showed up.
She was so cute, when I saw her my heart melted. Every time I passed her my eyes locked on her and I was so jealous of the person working with her. The next week I showed up to Home Depot early. I was waiting and was majorly zoning out. All of a sudden I heard one of the owners say " I think she wants to work with you”. I looked and Hannah was running towards me at the end of her leash. How could I be so lucky? The amazing thing was I didn't have to pay for the training or for Hannah. Talk about kismet! I'm still amazingly grateful.
In this small amount of space it is hard to tell you all the ways that she has helped to change my life. So I will share one of my favorite stories with you. One day I was having a really shitty day. I called my therapist for an emergency meeting. When I sat down I immediately started to cry. Hannah thought it was my therapist who was sitting a crossed from me that was triggering my distress. She got up and put her front paws on my knees and put her nose to my nose, trying to block my view of my therapist. If I moved my head to the right or the left to see around her she would mirror me. When my therapist and I finally put it together what she was trying to do we both fell out laughing.
I highly encourage everyone that has a mental health challenge to research and talk to your doctor about the benefits of a service dog.
SERVICE ANIMALS AND EMOTIONAL SUPPORT ANIMALS
COMMONLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT SERVICE ANIMALS IN PLACES OF BUSINESS
POWER PAWS ASSISTANCE DOGS
EMPOWERING PEOPLE FOR INDEPENDENCE
BERGIN UNIVERSITY OF CANINE STUDIES