In today's post Melanie continues her journey her service dog. I've always admired how much strength she has and was happy she accepted my request to share her story on the Mind Alive Inc. blog.
"Psych dogs are very new and that they aren’t readily available. I was lucky in stumble across an organization in my area that was just starting up. Through them, I found Paige, a beautiful rough collie that was leaving a breeding program. Paige and I started training in May, 2010. Now, a year later, I can’t imagine my life without her.
I have been her primary trainer throughout this process and we have worked through everything together. This isn’t a process for everybody. Training your own service dog, no matter how much support you have from both professionals and friends and family, is incredibly hard. I completed 9 years of post secondary education, most of it without a diagnosis or medication and the rest with anxiety that was crippling at times. I would put training Paige in that same difficulty category but condensed. Everything is happening at once and you can’t just drop a class if you’re getting overwhelmed. But I don’t regret a minute of it.
There have been times where I have threatened to give her away. There have been times where I just had to sit down and have a little cry because I just couldn’t handle any more. But there were so many moments of success. So many joys. Paige is my best friend and I am blessed to have her with me.
In our training we’re up to a point where Paige goes everywhere with me. Everywhere includes movies and we’ve started on swimming pools. Paige isn’t ready to have her “in training” badges removed, or maybe I’m not, but I’m so proud of her and myself. The world is open to me now that I have her at my side. I can grocery shopping by myself, take the bus, go to new stores and places where I don’t know anybody, and ask for assistance from the employees of a store when I need it. I can do all of these with confidence and independence.
When I started training Paige, I expected to be able to gain independence. There have been other side effects that I was not expecting. I have gained confidence in myself as a person and in my abilities. I have made new friends, which I haven’t done in years. I am now starting to mentor other people who want to get dogs for similar disabilities. I can interact with the public easily most days. I’m able to educate them and, depending on the situation, able to explain why I have Paige beside me and what that really means. In other cases I have a list of scripted answers that answer people’s questions without giving away the real reason I have Paige with me."
Labels: anxiety, Service dogs