Lately I have been wanting my own service dog. I would like to get a puppy, and train it to be a service dog. So, why do I want a service dog? Well, I love dogs. I have always loved dogs since I was very small. I used to collect stuffed dogs, from poodles to Chihuahua’s. I also work with a dog in a small dog club. I like doing rally courses and showmanship. It is fun, and challenges me to use problem solving when my dog doesn’t do something right or if I make a mistake.
I also like dogs because they are very calming to me. Petting a dog can make me feel a lot calmer. In my last vaulting performance, I had the opportunity to snuggle with an adorable Sussex spaniel puppy. His fur was super soft and I loved stroking his fur and holding him in my lap. I felt calmer as I stroked the puppy’s fur and my sensory processing seemed to be less noticeable, as I often hear every sound and sometimes get overwhelmed by sound.
I also have anxiety/panic attacks. Although I do not know if I am truly having panic attacks, but I do have symptoms including tight chest, sweaty palms, increased heart rate, irregular heartbeat, shakiness, stomachache, burning in stomach and chest, tinging in hands, arms, legs, and feet, and sometimes difficulty breathing easily. All of these symptoms do not happen with each attack either, sometimes they are combined, and sometimes they are not.
These can make me feel very uncomfortable. One I had made me feel like I was dying, because my chest was so tight, and my stomach was hurting, and my heart rate was up. I felt like my whole body was going crazy on the inside. I can act pretty normal on the outside, even though on the inside my body is going nuts with anxiety.
Service dogs can help with anxiety by doing anxiety alerts, DPT (deep pressure therapy), guiding to an exit, getting help, etc. Service dogs can also help with autistic people with sensory processing difficulties and meltdowns. One autistic individual I read about found it easier to communicate to people with her service dog by her side.
I think a service dog would help me a lot. Although I am on Zoloft, It does not completely prevent anxiety/panic attacks. It has helped some, but it does not “cure” my anxiety. My mentor likes to think of medication as the foundation for working on your anxiety, if you have a firm foundation, then you can find it easier to work on your anxiety. I wasn’t put on medication for a long time, and even before going onto medication my therapist and I discussed whether or not it would be beneficial to me.
I hope someday that I can get a dog of my own to train as my own service dog. I know it would take a lot of time and effort, but I am willing to do that. I encourage anyone interested in a service dog to look into getting a service dog, or training one of their own. Service dogs are great dogs, they can help so many people with many different issues feel happier, safer, and more confident.