Friday, June 4, 2010

In Service

This post is semi-serious, so please know I won't be offended if you look at the pretty picture and leave. I understand.

When I tell you that Drive is my best friend, it isn't hyperbole or cliche. Plainly stated, there are days I would not get through if I could not bury my fingers in his fur or wrap my arms around his neck. This blog is not about me, but I live with mental illness and that is relevant to Drive. Before him, I didn't truly understand the miracle that is Dog. (That's a secular, science-type miracle, for what it's worth.)

Drive does not, I must tell you, have the necessary temperament to be an "official" service dog. The training would stress him deeply. I did have a trainer tell me recently he might "settle down with age."

"He's ten."

"... Oh."

So maybe not.

Are you aware that while most people see service dogs as large breed animals who hear and see, there is a whole separate category into which Drive could fall? I mean, if he could learn the commands and since it took me almost a year to teach him to go up some steps, I have my doubts and I won't force it on our relationship. If you're interested, here's a little information on "Emotional Support Animals."

When I say that Drive is my very best friend, I mean that deeply and truly. Over the past five years, through some of the hardest and darkest hours in my life, Drive has helped me live. He's helped me want to.


  1. We have a cat named Lucy. On the surface, Lucy's a pretty average black cat. Little paunchy now at 10, but still sleek-ish, and likes to lay around in the sun all day.
    The special thing about Lucy is her response to anxiety. If either Bronnie or Nick are having an anxiety attack, she is there. For Bronnie, who is quiet about them, she simply curls up on her lap, and purrs. Nick is a little louder about anxiety. If he's sanding up, she will stand on her hind legs and paw at his hip while meowing. If he's sitting down, she crawls on his lap and places her paws on his face. Somehow, she knows what to do for both of them to help them come back from the dark places. Lately, if Nick's getting into a bad place, she comes and makes me follow her before she goes to him.
    But no agency would admit that she's trainable to be a service animal.
    I think that in so many ways, we use our lack of scientific understanding about animals to tell ourselves that they are inferior. I don't know about that. I think that they are as capable of understanding emotions as someone who doesn't speak our language. I base this off of my own experience with animals over the years, and the level of compassion I've seen from "Dumb animals' that too often outstrips that of the humans around me.

  2. I first learned of emotional support dogs through the Dogster forums about five or six years ago. I'm very impressed by the way they work! I wish that they would "standardize" a test for all assistance dogs so that they could all pass it. Have you considered adding a younger grey and doing the training with him or her to take the test and usurp the job from Drive (later, when he's feeling less up to the challenge)? I've heard that it's very rewarding! I didn't know this about your relationship with him, but it makes him even sweeter in my eyes, and I do adore that boy of yours!

  3. There is a reason that business establishments cannot ask what the service dog is supporting in a human and no formal process to accredit them. All you have to do is identify your dog as a service animal. A service dog can be a lot of different things.