And life will be irrevocably changed . . .
I’ve talked in the distant past about my desire for a service dog. I’ve spent hours researching and planning and scheming and thinking and more research, and it is starting to come to fruition. I’ve got the toys. I’ve got the time. I’ve got the money. And I’ve met the dog.
He’s very smart and beautiful, with a really adorable face that can change like quicksliver from mild inquisitiveness to full on friendly face with a great big smile. He’s quiet and gentle and smart as a whip. He’s housebroken and knows some commands. He’s got a sweet little pointy face and a dedicated nature. He’s a year old, which is good because little babies are a lot of work.
This is the year long plan for the young man:
1. Take him to obedience school (clicker training)
2. Start getting him acclimated to public places, people, and new situations
3. Start doing task oriented training (hopefully with the help of a qualified trainer who’s trained psychiatric service dogs)
4. Take the Canine Good Citizen Test
5. Continue on to advanced task training, alerting, more obedience, and more public spaces
6. Take him to a service dog organization to get him tested and given service dog i.d.
I’ve also considered, just for fun, to take him to agility.
You may be wondering why I want a service dog. Yeah, I take meds, yeah, I’m going to start counselling, AGAIN, but there are certain things a dog can help me with that all the rest can’t:
To alert me to oncoming episodes and get me to a safe place to deal with it.
To remind me of medication time.
To ground me when my mind starts racing by inturrupting and focusing on me.
To calm me when I get anxiety.
To alert to panic attacks.
To wake me up in the morning.
To give emotional support when I’m depressed.
To remove me from social situations when I’m overwhelmed.
And I’m sure my list of things he can do for me will grow with time. It’s going to be very different. And I know I’ll probably feel exhausted at times. But in the long run, he’s going to do so much for my quality of life. And I’m going to have to adjust to caring for a very small and important being. I know I’ll also run into obstacles, especially since Canadian law doesn’t fully protect Psychiatric Service Dogs in the same way American law does. It will be hard, getting access rights, having training difficulties, finding the PSD handler’s community, getting crapped on for having such a small service dog (Canadians still consider service dogs to be big guys, even though in the States toy breeds are also used), getting crapped on by other people with mental health issues for even having a service dog. It’s all going to be full of it’s own ups and downs.
People think service dogs always are on the job, but that’s not totally true. He’s going to be able to come home and be a regular dog, with lots of toys in all varieties and walks and playing fetch and romps in the dog park. He’s even going to be able to have occasional sleepover/vacations with certain people so he has some down time. He’ll play with other dogs and be best friends with a kittycat and get to make goofy faces and have controlled treats. He’s even going to travel with me for a month in August to Utah, Ontario, and Quebec. I’m not bringing him with me on business related trips until I’m sure he and I have a good relationship and he’s well behaved. After that, where ever I go, he’ll usually come too, helping me along across time and space!
So if you see someone in a movie theatre with a long haired black and tan mini dachshund in a “service dog in training” vest, it’s probably me.