Author Topic: Is a service dog right for me?  (Read 671 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline lexielexie

  • Newly arrived
  • *
  • Posts: 2
  • SDC interest: SD partner
Is a service dog right for me?
« on: August 03, 2017, 04:51:15 PM »
I have severe anxiety and it can get in the way of me doing things effectively. An example is a few months ago, I was working on an assignment for a class (the assignment was due that night) and it just wasn't making sense. The equations I was trying t solve weren't working out and I'd do the problem over and over again getting the same results, but the answer that I would get wasn't right. I then broke down and hyperventilated in my room for a good 10 minutes before my mom came in and was able to calm me down. It was about 40 minutes till I was comfortable with moving and doing more work. It has also kept me from functioning properly at social events that i was required to go to, such as school orientation. My sister in law, having some of the same problems I do, and having seen my anxiety become progressively worse with age, suggested that I consider getting a service dog to help with my anxiety. The more I think about it the more I want a service dog, but I'm scared that me wanting a service dog makes me "fake" or "looking for attention" and that is the absolute last thing I want. Just the idea of being able to do normal things like everyone, not being the reason we leave an event early or not getting people mad because I don't want to be where we are, makes me happy. I thought I'd search for some answers, so i ended up here. Please give your honest opinions on what you think I should do.   

Offline SandyStern

  • Official Welcomer
  • *
  • Posts: 656
  • Mood: Happy
  • SDC interest: SD partner
Re: Is a service dog right for me?
« Reply #1 on: August 04, 2017, 11:21:26 AM »
Here is an excellent tool that will guide you to answer your own question:
http://servicedogcentral.org/content/files/QualifyForServiceDog.pdf

Offline ccunnin3

  • Little Win Guru
  • Old Timer
  • *****
  • Posts: 1548
  • Nicer Once You Get To Know Her
  • Location: North Carolina
  • Mood: Okay
  • SDC interest: SD partner
Re: Is a service dog right for me?
« Reply #2 on: August 04, 2017, 11:27:04 AM »
No one here can tell you if a service dog is the right solution for you.

I will say that with anxiety disorders it is especially important to consider all the attention, comments, and stares that come with having a service dog. It can be upsetting even for people without anxiety disorders. People will be rude, demanding, in your space, and they won't take "no" for an answer.
Caitlin and AIRLIE
My Blog

Offline Ariel

  • Scruffmaster Extraordinaire
  • Old Timer
  • *****
  • Posts: 4426
  • Location: North Carolina, USA
  • Mood: Cynical
  • SDC interest: SD partner
Re: Is a service dog right for me?
« Reply #3 on: August 04, 2017, 11:32:02 AM »
Who is treating you for your anxiety? The first thing I would do is make an appointment to see your mental health provider and discuss the impairment you're experiencing with your anxiety. Discuss with them what other options they think could be useful in making your anxiety less of a struggle. This may be medication (or different medication), different types of therapies, accommodations so you can best get your work completed and turned in. If your psychiatric provider(s) already feel they are doing all they can and your anxiety is disabling in spite of the efforts made to change that, then a service dog may be a consideration.

At that point you'd need to think about what a service dog could do to help you. What can you not do for yourself or struggle intensely with that makes parts of your daily activities difficult or impossible to complete? Service dogs can be very helpful but they are not a magic cure. I'm not suggesting you're saying that, but it's a common misconception that if only a service dog can be acquired all will be well again. For people with severe anxiety it can for some be actually harder to go out and about with a service dog than to go out alone or with a helpful human.

I could be wrong but I get the sense that you're a minor if you mention living with your mom and school orientation. If this is the case your mom or whoever else cares for you will need to make decisions regarding if a service dog is the right avenue to explore at this time, should your psych provider(s) be on board.
Jubilee - Service Dog - German Wirehaired Pointer
Jubi's FB page!
In Loving Memory of Service Dog Saxon (6/5/13-12/2/15)

Offline Suse

  • Old Timer
  • *****
  • Posts: 1452
  • Location: Marquette, MI
  • Mood: Okay
  • SDC interest: SD partner
Re: Is a service dog right for me?
« Reply #4 on: August 04, 2017, 08:05:57 PM »
Curious how a service dog could help you think?  What kind of tasks would that be?

Offline lexielexie

  • Newly arrived
  • *
  • Posts: 2
  • SDC interest: SD partner
Re: Is a service dog right for me?
« Reply #5 on: August 04, 2017, 11:22:54 PM »
question: who is treating me?
answer: currently no one, but my mother is looking for another therapist to treat me. she didn't like the one we were currently at because I had been with her for so long and I hadn't improved at all. the therapist wasn't really doing much other than listening to me talk.

question: am I a minor?
answer: yes.

question: have I tried medication?
answer: yes?
my mother didn't like the idea of putting me on a medication (since she had been on some herself in the past and didn't like that they did to her) so we were trying to avoid medications at all costs. because of that, we went the "natural" way and put me on a vitamin supplement that was supposed to help. I was on  L-tyrosine and L- tryptophan (I believe that's what they were called). in the end it didn't really have much of an affect because I am very bad  at remebering to take my medications so I wouldn't be consisteant with when I needed to take them. obviously anyone who is on medication knows that even a day of being off of it will throw you out of wack, so that wasn't really working for me. my mother would get upset that I was forgetting too so the task in remembering to take pills got me even more anxious about it than I  already was.

question: what would be some of the tasks I need the dog to do?
answer: well from the q&a above I'm sure you can guess the main task would be reminding me to take my medications when it came the time. I'm anemic as well and I'm supposed to take iron everyday but as you can probably guess, I have failed to do that too. some other tasks would be calming me down when I'm flustered doing work (for school, we all know how fun that is), calming me down when in a social setting I'm nervous to be in, distracting me when I'm in large crowds as well would be very nice too. my friend said it's called a sensory problem, I'm not sure that's exactly what it is but anytime I'm in large crowds where people are loud, or too close, I ball up on the ground, close my eyes and cover my ears. obviously that draws attention but when I get like that I don't want anyone to touch me or talk to me, so having a dog there to  be the one to comfort me, steer people away, or even prevent that from happening, would be very very nice and would give me a bit of my life back.


if I have missed anything I am sorry, I am very appreciative of all your responses and that you took time out of your day to help me :smile:

Offline OlgatheGSD

  • Loquacious Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 753
  • Michelle and Olga
  • Location: OR
  • Mood: Brain fog
  • SDC interest: owner-trainer
Re: Is a service dog right for me?
« Reply #6 on: August 05, 2017, 01:54:56 AM »
I don't have much sound advice around getting a service dog for your problems other than I am deeply in the personal belief that you are not receiving any form of treatment at all, and vitamin supplements are not medications and should not be considered a form of treatment unless prescribed by your doctor. This worries me greatly.

Growing up, I was and still am a lot like you with losing track of things, horrible memory, massive anxiety issues, etc. My mother didn't help me get the treatment and diagnosis I needed, and it wasn't until I was 21 to get diagnosed with the bulk of my problems and finally at 25 I got a service dog that was kindly given to me. While I am not happy still about my mother keeping me from a doctor and shoving "natural cures" down my throat, I am glad I waited for the therapy I needed and the medical doctor support and ongoing care before getting a service dog. A dog is not a robot. You have to put into the dog's happiness than he does for you. There is an app called Medisafe that manages your medications for free, and it has helped me more than my dog nudging me twice a day. Medication and/or proper therapy may help you live a less anxious life. Even being out of school alone may help significantly. An SD is a large commitment and pills can be temporary. There are various forms of therapy that may help you live a normal life.

If you do end up going the SD route, I think you should at least wait to get all of your issues brought to a proper medical and mental team so they can pinpoint exactly what the problem is. Otherwise the SD you get might be just as wrong for you as taking a pill for ulcers when you really have an anxiety disorder. It's a bandaid without addressing what is causing the cut to begin with.
Potato quality human with a smarter-than-you-honor-student dog.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Olga-the-GSD-1632466706793262/

Offline Summertime.and.Azkaban

  • Resident Terrier Wrangler
  • Old Timer
  • *****
  • Posts: 1950
  • Holli and Azkaban
  • Location: North Carolina USA
  • Mood: Tired
  • SDC interest: owner-trainer
Re: Is a service dog right for me?
« Reply #7 on: August 05, 2017, 02:27:14 AM »
Med remimders will be questioned as a task in court. Apps and alarms are more effective
-Azkaban, Rayner, and Chewy-
"I am not interested in picking up crumbs of compassion thrown from the table of someone who considers himself my master. I want the full menu of rights" -Desmond Tutu
PM me about being pen pals or receiving a holiday card in the mail!

Offline missythewriter

  • Active Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 323
  • Mood: Brain fog
  • SDC interest: waiting
Re: Is a service dog right for me?
« Reply #8 on: August 05, 2017, 07:44:13 AM »
Being so young, you need to be careful with getting a service dog this early, especially before trying medication and therapy. Right now, as a teenager (speaking from personal experience here), your hormones are crazy out of whack. It's much different to be diagnosed with anxiety as a teen than to be diagnosed with anxiety as a 34-year-old adult. Why? A teenager's personality is much more subject to change, as well as their views on life. I had major depression from ages 8-13. During those years, I met the ADA definition of disabled and would have qualified for a service dog. However, if I had gotten one then, I would no longer need him and would instead be using him as a crutch for not getting better. My depression improved with age, because I got older. Now, I still have depression, but it's at the point now where I can manage it alone.

You never know what's going to happen with your anxiety as you mature. If you get a service dog now, you may no longer need him in two, three years, but then find that you don't want to give him up, and therefore he could end up being a setback in your treatment instead of a help. I've seen this happen one too many times. Teenagers get SDs for psychiatric reasons, and only utilize the dog for a couple of years, and then retire them early and no longer need another SD. Or, they continue to work them and either don't seek further treatment, or no longer need them but be unwilling to retire them.

This isn't to say there aren't teens out there who really need PSDs, because there are. I know of people who are 40 years old and have had mental illnesses since the age of 6. However, because you are in such an influential and developmental time of life, I personally would not recommend obtaining a service dog at this time. Especially before trying treatment. You could find a medication that gives you few to no side effects but completely takes care of your anxiety. But you'll never know before you try. Not as medications are horrible and awful--why would doctors prescribe them, if that were the case? They're there to help you, and you need to be in active treatment before even considering an SD.

Offline Suse

  • Old Timer
  • *****
  • Posts: 1452
  • Location: Marquette, MI
  • Mood: Okay
  • SDC interest: SD partner
Re: Is a service dog right for me?
« Reply #9 on: August 05, 2017, 08:15:36 PM »
Actually, except for the med reminder, which can be done with other means, it sounds like you are describing an emotional support animal (ESA). 

I too highly recommend treatment.
« Last Edit: August 05, 2017, 08:17:11 PM by Suse »

Offline Poedog

  • Active Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 161
  • Location: SC
  • SDC interest: ESA owner
Re: Is a service dog right for me?
« Reply #10 on: August 05, 2017, 09:25:18 PM »
I agree with what everyone else says. Keep trying therapy. If you don't find one that fits you right away, keep trying. Try medications if you're open to it; sometimes parents make choices that they think are best, but, assuming your parent will allow you to see a psychiatrist to discuss potential options with you, try to make your own (informed) choices with the help of a psychiatrist if you can.
I know it's frustrating. I had pretty severe depression and anxiety in high school and was homeschooled through high school, had to drop out a semester of college. It sucks. But it does get better, with the right treatment. If you try therapy and meds and that does not help, then a SD may, potentially, be the way to go, but as everyone has said, that should be more of a last resort type option.

all that said, an ESA could truly help you. Mine helped me immensely and I am so thankful for her every day. I have even trained her to do some tasks for me, which I guess would technically qualify her as a service dog in training, since she's being trained by me to mitigate my disabilities, but we do not do any public access work because I do not feel like my disabilities are currently at a point where I could, in good conscience, use her (she's also 6.5 which is old for a mastiff).

hopefully that all made sense. my brain is a bit foggy right now.

Offline SandyStern

  • Official Welcomer
  • *
  • Posts: 656
  • Mood: Happy
  • SDC interest: SD partner
Re: Is a service dog right for me?
« Reply #11 on: August 06, 2017, 04:06:53 PM »
I hope you don't think we're being unkind.  It's just that service dogs are NOT a substitute for medical care.  I'll be candid and say I don't think your mom is doing the right thing by you.  Her experiences are hers alone. She should not dictate how you treat your own illness based on her ideology.  Anxiety is really responsive to medication.  I have a service dog who helps me walk. I've exhausted all surgical options and I'm in PT all the time to maintain the function I have. 

Look, it's your decision, but if medication could prevent anxiety attacks, I would want to try that approach instead of getting a dog to help me cope with them.