Zim the Service Dog Puppy
Hello, my name is Zim and I am a goldendoodle pup in advanced puppy training, I took an epic road trip up the ENTIRE east coast to go live with my new family where I'm attending additional training for the next 2 years so I can eventually service one of my family members as a service dog! Can you believe I'm only 4 months old and I've already traveled through 13 states?
I'm still growing and learning and I know I have a long road ahead of me, but I am very clever and brave, so I know I can do it! The cost for my training and adoption is pretty substantial, so my humans are hoping they can raise $3400 of the $6500 needed to help offset the financial sacrifice they're making to get me and put me through training so I can help one of them live a better life. Would you like to help support me and my family on this journey? Thank you! <3
And now, a message from my humans...
Goal: Our goal is to raise $3400 of the approximate $6500 total cost to adopt our service dog candidate and complete 2 years of training (this does not include medical expenses, food, transport, etc.). To date we have paid over $4000 and still have about $2500+ in training and testing to pay for, which Zim will continue to attend for the next 2 years prior to successfully passing as a working service dog. We are so GRATEFUL to those willing to help us lighten this immense financial burden as well as those willing to share our story!
We've had this question a lot so we wanted to start by sharing that we are working towards Zim becoming a psychiatric service dog, not a therapy dog or emotional support animal. They serve very different purposes and require different levels of training.
Mental health and being the victim of abuse is nothing to be embarrassed about, but it seems there's still some stigma about discussing certain topics and personal experiences. I'm not ashamed and I'm openly discussing my plan to improve my life and asking for help in the process.
You can read a slightly longer version of parts of my (Patrick's) story HERE , but to save space and time here is the abbreviated version for those stopping by:
While I was born and adopted at birth in the U.S., I was raised as the child of missionaries primarily overseas on one of the many islands in Indonesia. I have some fond memories of my time there, but there were numerous things that happened to me that no one should ever have to deal with. In fact, the worst things that happened were completely terrifying and almost cost me my life. I was put in terrible positions no child should ever be faced with--abuse, exposure to violent environments and people, etc. It became a game of survival. As if that wasn't enough, after many years of living overseas my family and I had to flee the country during the riots that broke out in 2000 in Indonesia. People were being hunted and killed in the streets and our only option was to run for safety elsewhere. While I'm thankful that growing up overseas gave me a unique, global perspective, the effects of the abusive situations and people I came in contact with have stuck with me as much as the positive memories. Some scars simply take longer to heal. As a result, I have suffered from anxiety, depression and PTSD since I was a young teen.
When I was younger I had no idea why I had panic attacks or what they were. I had no name for the fact I had flashbacks, sudden speech impairment/ticks or felt panic in certain environments. As a teen I tried to numb the feelings and suppress what I could--unsuccessfully. Then when I got older and got married, I began going to therapy regularly and after years of struggle finally had a name for everything I was going through--PTSD.
What is PTSD?
PTSD stands for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
The Anxiety and Depression Association of America describe PTSD as:
“A serious potentially debilitating condition that can occur in people who have experienced or witnessed a natural disaster, serious accident, terrorist incident, sudden death of a loved one, war, violent personal assault such as rape, or other life-threatening events.”
While my wife and I are big believers in therapy and medication to assist with alleviating some of the burden that is PTSD, we’ve been talking for some time about what more we can do to help me—especially as our sons grow. Even with the best combo of meds, not every day is great (in fact some weeks are completely miserable) and the side effects can be really disruptive … and even scary.
My wife began looking into PTSD service dogs in 2016 when she read about someone who had one. She did a lot of research, messaged people, etc. and in the end it started to look like it may be a really great option for us to pursue. I remember the first time my wife brought it up to me--my entire face lit up! Sometimes the possibility of hope can mean more than you'd ever imagine.
Psychiatric Service Dogs are specially trained to perform specific tasks that help assist someone suffering from PTSD from either breaking a panic attack cycle and/or getting out of a situation that triggers panic attacks. They can be trained to detect an oncoming panic attack and apply deep pressure, to guide you to an exit to remove you from a triggering situation, to retrieve medication in an emergency, etc. They can also assist with other day-to-day tasks that are otherwise difficult for those that suffer with PTSD. This is a really comprehensive list of some of the tasks some psychiatric service dogs can be trained to perform.
The Next Step
For individuals that pursue owner-training service dogs (the term used when someone who is helped by a service dog goes through training alongside their service dog candidate), the costs are great and the amount of dedication necessary is incredible. We will dedicate the next two years of our life towards reaching our end goal of graduating with a psychiatric service dog.
We put down a deposit at the very beginning of the year with a carefully researched program that had a stellar track record of producing service dog candidate potentials and we just received word that there should be a service dog candidate available to us this summer! Our service dog candidate puppy will need to complete advanced puppy training prior to coming home to us, which means he/she will come and live with us in August. To date we have paid approximately $3500.
Another $3000+ in training and testing will occur over the next 2 years prior to Zim hopefully successfully passing as a working service dog.
The Total Cost & The Debate on Fundraising
The total cost to adopt our service dog candidate puppy (who will have successfully passed certain temperament tests) and undergo around 2 years of training is approximately $6500, if things go according to plan. We're hoping to raise a little over half of that--$3400--to hopefully help lighten this financial burden a bit for our family.
This doesn't include all the vet care, food, transport, grooming, etc. This is simply the cost of adopting our service dog candidate and doing the necessary training. There is always the chance our puppy will need additional training if he/she requires it, but we're praying things progress smoothly.
We've thought long and hard about this decision, consulted with my doctors/therapist and while we know the costs are substantial, we still believe this is the best option to pursue.
We weren't originally going to attempt to fundraise, but a handful of friends suggested that it was ridiculous to feel so uncomfortable attempting to, so we're putting ourselves out there! We are blown away and so grateful for the general support we have received thus far.
Thank you to everyone that donates as well as those that help us share our story, we truly appreciate it!
Sometimes a dog is more than man's best friend--he's his saving grace.
Please continue to help us spread the word about our story and fundraiser. Every dollar and share is GREATLY appreciated!