The breed I have my heart set on is a Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever (or Duck Toller for short). They're very sweet and friendly dogs that are smaller than golden retrievers but larger than corgis. Below is a picture of Hot Shot, a sweet boy that I met at a dog show who won Best of Breed, and also the sire of the litter of puppies.
I hope you can see why I want this kind of dog.
The kind of service dog I'd be training my dog as is called a psychiatric service dog. I have severe depression and anxiety problems that have landed me in doctors' offices and therapy rooms and even in the psychiatric ward since I was about 12. I was diagnosed with clinical depression around age 13, and was hospitalized for being a threat to self in May of 2013. I have been struggling with my mental health for a long time, but in the past year it has been especially hard. I turned 18 in December, and along with that came many adult responsibilities. How was I supposed to get a job when just talking to strangers makes me freeze up and my heart start racing? How was I going to even get out of the house when I quite frequently felt bedridden because I literally hated myself so much that anything other than my bed seemed like far too much to handle on top of that major stressor? How in the world was I supposed to lead a normal life?
And then my current therapist suggested that I get a service dog. It was as if the clouds opened up and light shined in. A dog. A dog. Of course!
It has been proven that pets can help with mental health. My mom and I currently have our very adorable (but somewhat passive-aggressive and sassy) cat, Abby. Sometimes she helps, sometimes she doesn't. That's why I want a dog: unfailing love and faith in me, much more willing to cuddle and go on walks, and the ability to be trained into a service dog.
Common ways that service dogs can help people with mental illness include the following:
- environmental assessment (to prove that no one is hiding in your house to calm paranoia/hallucinations)
- signaling behaviors (if the dog sees you doing some sort of unhealthy action such as self-harm, they'll come and interrupt it)
- reminds handler to take medication
- provides a "barrier" between handler and others when in social situations
- can guide handler outside during stressful situations
- be present for emotional support
- many more!
For me in particular, having the dog would significantly help me when I return to school and start running daily errands again. I'd be able to have my dog there as a mental and physical anchor, and also as a figurative crutch to help calm me in social situations. The dog would also be able to be my emotional support because I'm often alone for most of the day, which can be very draining after long periods of time.
I have permission from both my therapist and psychiatrist to have a psychiatric service dog (both of whom think it's a wonderful idea). My therapist told my mom that she hasn't ever seen me lit up like this about something before. I know I haven't been excited like this in a long time.
I really hope you can find it in your heart to donate. It would truly mean the world to me.
If you would like to redeem your reward for donating a certain amount, please message me with the details of your request! Otherwise I'll assume you just wanted to donate and not receive a drawing in return.
Here's a few samples of my work. c:
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