What A Service Dog Deserves

A garden gives us peace, tranquility –

a place to absorb our worries, allowing us to move forward.

In exchange for its service, it requires little:
some food for a strong foundation,
water for life,
a little structure,
and some support when needed.

A service dog requires no less.
In the news recently was a disturbing story of an “emotional support dog” that attacked a passenger on an airplane. The dog was apparently (illegally) seated on its handler’s lap, and assaulted the individual sitting in the adjacent seat as the plane pushed back for take-off.

It is a tragedy for all: the victim, the handler who fears the worst for his dog, and the dog who never should have been put in this position. It is also a tragedy for all properly trained and legitimate service dogs, and evidence of an increasing issue as more people turn to fake certificates to keep their untrained “service” or “support” dogs by their side.

In my last job, I experienced this first-hand. A “service dog” puppy whose vest was ordered online by a co-worker who just wanted his dog to come to work with him. And a mother of a severely autistic son scammed by a disreputable organization putting untrained dogs and their humans at great risk for financial gain.

Porsche is another example.

She was surrendered to us, fake certificate included, as a failed emotional support dog. Porsche was loved, but she was done a huge disservice.

Adopted at 3.5 months of age, she had clearly not been well-socialized. She was afraid of strangers and men in particular, was terrified of the leash, did not get along well with other dogs in her personal space, and probably spent the majority of her life in a cacooned existence.

Having developed her own anxieties, she was sent to “therapy” herself before being surrendered to us.

Porsche was never set up for success, failing even the most basic requirements of a service dog established by Assistance Dogs International.

Spring was just arriving as our team worked to get her to be comfortable being leashed, and to untuck her tail.

With summer around the corner, she is finally exhibiting some dog-like behaviors.

Porsche still has a ways to go, but inside this girl is a dog longing to be loved by someone willing to expand her world and show her the joy of being a true canine companion.

Today, she runs with exuberance,

attends carefully selected play groups, walks well on a leash, and – if you are one of her privileged few – comes just close enough to welcome a belly rub.

At a minimum, a service dog requires structure, training, and proper preventative health care.
But for their service and success, they deserve more: socialization for a strong foundation, respect for their ability to be a dog when not working, and our support when needed to be both emotionally and physically fulfilled.

For more information about the differences between service dogs, therapy dogs, and emotional support dogs and their requirements, you can visit here.

Think you might be interested in adopting Porsche? Visit here!