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Therapy/emotional support pet?

Discussion in 'Employment, Education & Disability' started by T2L, May 20, 2018.

  1. T2L

    T2L Member

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    I wasn't quite sure where to put this so I decided on General.

    The main question is, do any of you have therapy dogs or emotional support dogs to help with PTSD, anxiety, depression, and/or disdociation? If so, what have your experiences been.. Good, bad, learning curve, etc. Do you have any suggestions?

    I have 3 cats. They're my children and can easily pick up when I'm feeling off, try to comfort me when I'm anxious or panicking, and will just snuggle with me at all times.

    Long story short, I was introduced at workwor a dog that was about to be to up for adoption. Our employer arranged it so once a week we take a dog from the humane society on a "doggy field trip" to get public exposure and socialize. I'm not a big dog person, especially larger dogs, but they asked me to be in their pics to post. I fell in love with her immediately and we clicked! She thinks she's a lap dog and then fell asleep on me! I think she's considered a plump medium size. You'd never think she's 2 with how calm she is!

    I went to the shelter the next day to apply for her. They said my application looked great but I won't know a final answer until Monday. I'm trying not to get my hopes up but it's like a special bond already. Co-workers never saw me light up that much ever and are putting in a good word for me. In the shelters' field she followed me around, ran with me, which I never do (she's faster haha) and she'd chase the ball and come back to me (without the ball lol). I still have not heard her bark, nor has she jumped up at all in excitement, both things that shy me away from dogs. She never pulled on her leash either. The only "issue" is she'll walk between your legs haha. I bought her basic supplies IF I get her so she won't come home to nothing.

    If I get her my goal is to get get certified as a trama and emotional support therapy dog... Not just for me, but to take to hospitals, nursing homes, and my work to assist in certain situations there as well...I guess it'll bring it full circle. This is just the beginning of a long term plan I have with my life to help others using therapy pets...

    Fingers crossed I'm approved and that my cats accept her once introductions are done properly! I brought home two wash cloths with the dogs scent so the cats can start to get used to it.

    Wish me luck and I'll let you all know!
     
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  3. bellbird

    bellbird Active Member

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    I have no personal experience with support dogs (though am a dog lover myself), but I just wanted to post to say that you're clearly a very caring and thoughtful owner, and I really hope this works out for you.
    It sounds like the dog brings you a lot of happiness, and it really seems like it would have a great life with you.
    Best of luck, and keep us updated! :)
     
  4. Florian7051

    Florian7051 Well-Known Member

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    Training to become a PTSD dog can be quite pricey, if you actually want a dog that is trained, not just a piece of paper that allows you to take your animal into buildings with you. I've seen therapy dogs and I've seen "therapy" dogs; there's a big difference between those that have actually underwent the rigorous training and those that have earned their certificate for a cheap ransom. Most reputable organizations will not train a dog you already own. Most companies that do train dogs you already own are not getting adequate training for your dog to perform in public. I do not have my service dog yet, but have been approved and am awaiting my arrival date of next April. It will cost $27,000 to train my service dog. Of course I will not be incurring all of that myself, as there are programs that help absorb the cost, but my point is that is the difference between a reputable program and one that is not. I'm sorry I know this isn't the answer you want to hear, but I am very frustrated with people who pay to get their certificate from these shady places and then bring their dog into public and their dog (barks at other dogs, other people, begs for food, knows no skills to predict/prevent the onset of a panic attack, etc...) they ruin it for the rest of us...

    I know you're going to do what you're going to do, but I just wanted to put my 2 cents in as this is a topic that is very near and dear to me as I have waited 5 years (and will wait another one) for my dog, and will have spent $27k on its training to become a functional prosthetic and companion. Service dogs are starting to become a cliche and they are starting to get a bad reputation because anyone and everyone pays a couple hundred bucks to get their pet certified and they have no clue how to act in public. I don't mean to be negative, but it just sounds to me like you are looking to drop a couple hundred bucks and certify your household pet; this is a huge problem plaguing the world of service animals currently. If I am misunderstanding this post than I apologize. Also their is nothing wrong with having a loyal pet/companion who ISN'T a service animal. I have a dog who is a great family animal and is wonderful with my kids... and me... I would never get rid of her and she brings my family great joy, but she is not a service dog.
     
    ladee likes this.
  5. Sideways

    Sideways I'm a VIP Premium Member

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    I think this is a fantastic goal, and potentially going to bring you a whole lot of happiness and meaning. Good luck with doggo - they really do make excellent emotional support animals.

    @Florian7051 - I think perhaps you just dumped a whole heap of your emotional baggage on someone who probably didn’t deserve it. OP is talking about a therapy or emotional support animal, which is quite different to a service dog:)
     
    Sietz likes this.
  6. Florian7051

    Florian7051 Well-Known Member

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    @Sideways - I guess we'll have to agree to disagree. I already apologized in my post if I misunderstood it, but the OP seemed to put forth the message of wanting to take the dog everywhere (which is a service dog, not an emotional support dog) the OP specifically said the following...

    This is a service dog. My post may have been emotional, but I try to do big venues (Disney, hockey games, etc...) which are hard for me (this is the reason I am getting a dog) because I don't want to let PTSD beat me. After MUCH research on the subject I found that the biggest issue for service animals in these large venues is people who have untrained animals in a vest that show aggression to other service animals. Of course over 5 years of research I have started to take notice of behavior when I go out. I watch some dogs at their owner's feet watching like they should be, calm and poised. Other dogs I see acting rambunctiously, barking, begging for food, no sense of discipline at all. If you pay attention you can really tell the difference. It has become a giant area of frustration for me.
     
  7. T2L

    T2L Member

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    Thank you all for the support :) I may have worded it incorrectly. I'm not looking for certification specific to PTSD. I did look up the 3 main type of certifications (service, therapy, and emotional support). I plan to do a lot of research for our local facilities to see what kind of certification they specifically require. Some may just need a therapy or emotional support animal (ie spending an hour or so with children in the cancer facility to make them happy and take their minds off things for a moment). I think my employer would be willing to work with me, but I just don't want post here what my job is. Ultimately I want to pass thing's forward and help others. I'm still struggling myself but I'm making progress and something flipped in my mind recently where I really want to help others, pets and humans alike. :)
     
    EveHarrington and Sideways like this.
  8. Faith Andrews

    Faith Andrews My talent: pretending that I'm okay everyday Premium Member Donated

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    I don’t have a trained therapy PTSD dog but I have a Shihtzu mix and oh my goodness she has been the best thing for me.

    We connected immediately as well and she comes and lays on me during nightmares or panic attacks.
     
  9. Freida

    Freida Been There, Done That, Lived to Tell the Story Premium Member

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    Just catching up.....I think you are talking about this...?

    A Therapy dog that you take with you into places to help other people feel better? That's kind of what I'm getting from your post
    I did that with one of my dogs - took the 8 hour Pet Partners class and got him certified to go into hospitals, schools, some work environments. His main job was to let people love on him and make them feel better. Sadly I ended up losing him to cancer a month after we passed the certification test. The Pet Partners training was awesome! They explained everything we would need, where we could go, basic training requirements, the whole bit -- you can find more about them at Pet Partners

    An Emotional support dog that stays with you at home (and can fly with you) to help you feel better and lessen your anxiety? Those are the ones who can live with you even in a "no pets" home as long as you have a Drs note. And you can also use them as therapy dogs -- they are a two fer!

    The Service dog is the one I have now. Those are the ones that you have to jump through lots of hoops of money and training because he has specific tasks to do. For me he alerts when I need medication, blocks people from bumping into me, blah blah

    Hope that helps!
     
    Faith Andrews likes this.
  10. T2L

    T2L Member

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    Thank you for breaking out the definitions in this manner!

    Ultimately my goal is a combination:

    1) an emotional support animal for myself when I need to fly, go in large crowds, etc. I'd like her to help ground me when I get sensory overload.

    2) a therapy animal to help others. I started my dog in the Good Citizens 3 part certification program that will allow her to go into nursing homes, hospitals, etc. She's very laid back, barely barks, doesn't jump, and loves people, so that's a great start! I want to help others and I feel animals are great at that!

    3) I'm still at the very beginning of contaminating this concept, but I have a long long term goal of opening my own rescue organization alone, or somehow train the rescues to become therapy animals and help kids with autism, anxiety disorders, etc. in therapy... They can help one another heal!
     
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  11. Freida

    Freida Been There, Done That, Lived to Tell the Story Premium Member

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    Glad it helped!

    And yes...organizations that out people and animals together are almost always a win. Have you seen the prison puppy programs? The out puppies with prisoners who give them basic puppy school and socialization and it has been a huge success. Prisoners learn empathy and puppies get ready for service dog training
     
    T2L likes this.
  12. T2L

    T2L Member

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    Freida - I'll have to look further into that! I've seen it in passing while watching the various prison shows on Netflix, but I haven't looked into it as a possibility. I've seen one episode where they allow prisoners to adopt the stray cats and let them live in the cell with them. The cats seemed content and the prisoners felt they had something to live for, work for, and gave their life purpose!
     
    Faith Andrews likes this.
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