So yeah, I have a Service Dog for PTSD. Part of that is an entire childhood of emotional and physical abuse FROM MY MOTHER. Last night she wanted to go to Lincoln Park Zoo. I didn’t want to go. It’s crowded, it’s loud, and well, I don’t like going to that zoo b/c you never get to see anything anyway (because it’s always crowded and anything worth seeing is closed at night esp. during the “zoo lights” time).
Crowds I don’t like. They are anxiety inducing. Needless to say they wanted me to leave my Service Dog at home because “I’d be with them” so therefore, of course, I wouldn’t need her. (Hardy har har.) I was like “OK” (because I’m 5 all of the sudden) and that lasted a whole 10 minutes before I freaked out and ended up saying “we need to take her.”
So we get there and it’s a fucking mess. Sadie hates it, I hate it, and my parents all telling me every 5 seconds how it’s “too crowded for her.” Well gee thanks, I know she hates it, but without her I’d be freaking out so yeah, guess what we’ll soldier on. At some point I’m told that I have to register her and we end up waiting at guest services to do so. My mother afterwards starts in on me about how I should have left her at home and that she really would have been fine and how dare I do this to her? I start explaining how I need her and I was anxious at the thought of going somewhere without her and she thought I meant anxious at the thought of leaving her home alone so she starts on the fact that she’s been alone at my parent’s house before (when we go to my Sicilian family xmas - i’m usually on xanax for a long list of reasons and it’s a “we’ve got about a zillion relatives and a thousand of them a kids thing - trying to keep the kids from petting Sadie is about as successful as trying to keep a politician from lying). I, of course, launched into how it was about *me* and not her. This induced a stream of “yeah I knows,” which didn’t stop her from talking about how Sadie would have been better off at home.
Obviously she wasn’t getting it and I couldn’t have been clearer with my explanation. *sigh* When your family doesn’t get the whole SD thing (my dad paid for my neurofeedback for the flashbacks and night terrors which WORKED LIKE A BLOODY CHARM so they understand the horrors of PTSD) it really hurts. It’s so frustrating and just made me want to cry and scream. I know that if she was for something physical or visual they might understand better, but this is in my head and so they’ll never get it. *sigh*
[TW: PTSD] I have questions if you're comfortable answering. I would really benefit from having a service dog, but I'm wondering how you found the energy to self-train your dog. Did you have dog training experience prior to training your own? How did you manage both your symptoms AND training a dog at the same time? Was she already predisposed to be a service dog? No worries if you don't want to answer, but I'm trying to consider my options and self-training sounds overwhelming, but maybe not?
I’m not gonna lie - it was hard, very hard. I’ve been suffering from PTSD my whole life, and training your own SD takes A LOT of spoons/energy, but what got me through it was knowing the benefits that she would give me at the end of it. Not gonna lie, next dog I get to be a SD is a 4-6 month old puppy rescue (which is what they recommend if you’re self training) instead of a 2 yo rescue, because it was so much MORE work socializing her back from her personal abuse. But that bonded us more. We helped each other and healed each other along the way. I guess that for me that’s what kept me going - we needed each other, and whenever I would start to have an anxiety attack of flashback BOOM there she was. She even woke me up from my night terrors. So every once in awhile she’d remind me of what she WAS doing and that helped make the inevitable “I don’t want to get out of bed and take my meds but the alarm is going off and I have to teach you to remind me to take my meds” conundrum push through-able.
With that - she’s my first dog ever. For basic training (sit, stay, etc) I took her to the PetSmart training classes. They worked REALLY WELL. Even got her a Canine Good Citizen certificate.
I don’t know what else to say, but if you have any more questions feel free to ask.
My service dog got a new winter sweater.
The last pic is her grumpy “why are you taking pictures of this?” face.
The organisation he started to help vets called Pets to Vets that places dogs with veterans: Pets 2 Vets
Places to acquire pets for vets (most for free or cheap):
A list of links: Operation We Are Here
Hi there! I've been diagnosed with PTSD and fibromyalgia, and I think having a service dog would really benefit me. I was wondering if you could please give some tips on how you trained your service dog. I live in NZ, and there are a couple of service dog agencies here, but I am yet to find any information on self-training.
1st off can I say that a PTSD dog saved my life. Sadie is a godsend and I ****HIGHLY**** recommend one for everyone with PTSD. Seriously.
2nd: Here’s a website with a list of tasks that a SD can perform for you. Here are a list of links that contain training guides from clicker training to relationship based training. (You need to scroll down the page a little bit - the page contains quite a lot of resources, but they are all US based.) Here’s an article on choosing the right dog. I don’t know about the laws in NZ, but here they can be ANY BREED. Mine’s a Pit Bull.
I can say that training my dog took about 6 solid months. I’d never trained a dog before. On top of the SD training I did on my own following advice from online websites, I also enrolled her in standard doggie training classes at the local pet store. I’m proud to say she has her Canine Good CItizen Certificate (which is something the ADA likes you to have).
Good luck! I hope this helped. If you have any more questions send them my way!
hi there... just saw where you'd posted on together we are strong about service animals for PTSD... was wondering what the process is to get that to happen.. i have been diagnosed with several different things and don't have any one good one yet (ha) because i've not had stable treatment in years, but i do think that a service animal would be awesome, esp. after reading how yours has worked with you. what are the criteria one has to meet to qualify for a service animal?
You have to have a documented disability. This is numero uno. Without this you do not qualify for a Service Dog. And this is really the only requirement one needs to worry about. The rest is superfluous, if you read my story.
After that you may discuss with you pdoc or therapist whether you think a SD is right for you, though I started training Sadie before I did that and kind of presented her as an already trained SD to my pdoc who then said OK (I really gave them no choice and since you need no papers to prove that the dog is a Service Dog (although some Disability Resource groups at colleges do demand documentation for all services rendered including SDs) this step really meant nothing to me and I still have no note from them or anything).
Morgan at unheardofsongs actually put together a great little piece on acquiring a SD in the US here so I will just point you to that post since it’s really complete and she does a bang-up job explaining everything.
Hi Anon. I have a PTSD Service Dog. Her name is Sadie. She alerts me to anxiety attacks before I know I’m going to have them, flashbacks too, lets me know when to take my meds, helps me get out of bed when my alarm goes off, and basically get out of the house several times a day to walk her. She’s…
Me and my Service Dog Sadie the day she won Best Rescue at an American Bully Kennel Club Show
“Fort Hood, along with other posts across the country, has become a battleground in an Army-wide debate on what constitutes a service dog and who needs one.
Soldiers within the 1st Cavalry Division received a counseling statement last month that prohibits most from bringing service dogs to work. Those with post-traumatic stress disorder were particularly disappointed about the announcement.”