It’s official: Doc is a registered service dog! Quite a long way from being on the to-be-euthanized-in-24-hours list at the shelter.
Here’s a little about me: I deal with anxiety. A few years back I finally got on medication, and WOW, what a difference it makes! But a few months ago I started having panic attacks on a regular basis — any time I’m in a crowd of strangers. This makes going to Costco, my honey’s work functions, or the kids’ sports games rather challenging. What we did notice that was that Doc helped.
Because I’ve never trained a psychiatric service dog before, I bought a book. It’s always hilarious for me to buy dog training books; in this case, I was able to briefly skim the first eighty pages on general good manners, and go straight to the last ten pages on psychiatric training! I learned some nifty new things, and got Doc trained.
Before this, I hadn’t known you could have a service dog for panic attacks. I thought that fell under the purview of emotional support animal, which aren’t allowed in many places and wouldn’t do me much good. But a service dog — a dog who is trained to actually DO something in certain situations — can alert to a panic attack, do certain things to make a panic attack less likely (in my case, lay behind me so that people are forced to give me extra space), and if it happens, help short circuit a panic attack (by pressing on the stomach and abdomen with their bodies). Cool!
To have a service dog, you must first have a disability (mental, emotional, or physical) that requires outside service. Anyone can train a service dog (note: a guide dog provides a service, but is not the same as a service dog and specific trainers need to train them), so for those people who can’t afford a trainer, they can do it themselves. A service dog MUST be housebroken and not a nuisance; those are the two reasons an establishment can ask you to remove your service dog.
By law, people can ask what service your dog provides (but may not ask for a demonstration; a good thing, as I can’t have a panic attack on command), but may not ask what your disability is (that is between you and your doctor).
All of this is really just to say, Way to go, Doc! He’ll have his badges and whatnot in the next couple of days. (By law, he doesn’t have to be registered or have any sort of identification. By practicality, it makes life easier if he does!)