I’m going to preface this post by saving it’s very personal.
I’ve thought a lot about how I’m going to say this and how much I’m going to share, but it’s important for me to be honest with my readers.
I’m very excited for the next stage of my life because I will be getting, and training (with the help of a professional trainer), my own Service Dog.
As I’ve been telling my close friends and family over the past couple of months, they’ve asked countless times, “Why do you need a Service Dog?”. What I have is called an invisible disability, and just because you can’t see my disability, doesn’t mean I’m not disabled.
When I was 13, I was babysitting late one night. I’ll keep the story short, but a man broke into the house I was in and grabbed me. The police were able to find him and he was charged, but I was scarred from the whole event. I didn’t get the counseling or help that I should have right after the event, so my fear just seemed to build up on itself.
About a year after the break-in, I realized that I needed to meet with doctors and go to therapy. I was diagnosed with PTSD from the event. Along with PTSD comes anxiety, depression, social anxiety, etc. Although I’ve been working through these issues, they don’t just ‘go away’. As I’ve gotten older, I have gotten better at some aspects, but worse on others. I really struggle at night time, since that is when the break-in occurred. It’s also gotten more difficult for me to live on my own because I get so anxious by myself. Since I’m 20 and in college, I need to learn to live by myself now rather than later.
Within the past year, I have been researching Service Dogs and talking about the idea of them with my doctors and with my family. Together, we all decided that this is the next best step for me. I’ve worked so hard finding the prefect breeder, litter, and researching. I finally settled on a Goldendoodle from Smeraglia in Alabama.
Four weeks ago, I got a call that they have found the perfect puppy for me. He stayed past 8 weeks for some basic training, and I picked him up on May 25. To say that it was the best day of my life would be an understatement. I named him Captain, and we bonded instantly.
Captain will be trained to preform deep pressure therapy, blocks in public, wake me up from my night terrors, retrieve my medicine, and search my apartment/house if I get worried someone is in it; just to name a few of his major tasks.
We start training next week, and I’m so excited for this next chapter in my life. Of course there is always a huge fear of him washing out (not being able to complete training), but I’m dedicated to his training. Right now Captain is considered a ‘prospect’, meaning he is still being evaluated for training. If he completes his obedience and we’re happy with how he is progressing, he will become a Service Dog in Training. This is where we will start training in public with a Service Dog in Training vest on. Later on down the road when he is excelling in public access training, he will become a Service Dog. It will be a long process, but I’m ready for it. Contrary to popular belief, there is no ‘Service Dog Registry’. He becomes a Service Dog after he has mastered training.
I have learned so much about Service Dogs, owners’ rights, responsibilities, and rules, in the last year. I want to be an advocate for Service Dogs, so if you have any questions please feel free to leave them in the comments below! It is important for me to help raise awareness about Service Dogs.
If any of my Annapolis friends are reading this post, text me to set up a puppy playdate! He will need as much socialization as possible!
Thank you for letting me open up and share a huge part of my life. I am so excited for this next journey!