Before I got Crush, there was so much I didn’t know. I did hours upon hours of research trying to figure out if a service dog was right for me. It’s all about your condition and lifestyle. My dysautonomia makes it difficult for me to balance and bend down to pick things up. Crush’s tasks mitigate that really well. He has a hard harness and is trained to get anything and everything off the floor for me. To go through all of what Crush does for me would take a long time. Here’s what I considered before getting a service dog.
- Your Condition
Like I said earlier, Crush aids my disability well. He can help me get around, pick stuff up, and alert me to different medical needs. I’ve seen people have service dogs for a lot of different conditions. There are a lot of pros and cons to having a service dog. For me, I had to consider how many pros there were and weigh them against the cons. Sometimes service dogs really don’t help given your diagnosis. If you’re going through a lot of extra work for one task, it’s probably not worth it. That has to be your personal choice.
- Your Lifestyle
Dogs are dogs, whether they’re well trained or not. They have a lot of energy. They need stimulation and continuous training. It takes a lot of work. You have to be to everything fifteen minutes early to get them in gear, potty them, and get them in work mode. The quick runs to the store are now a big thing. You can always leave them at home but once you’re dependent on them it becomes more difficult to do so.
- The Questions
You have to be able to answer a whole lot of questions when you have a service dog. They’re often intrusive and rude. Sometimes people will share kind words about the wonderful work they do. Other times, you hear about dead dogs or how sad your dog is because they’re working all the time. The point is, you have to be prepared to talk. It comes naturally to some and I’ve heard that it’s the most challenging part for others. I’m somewhere in between. It depends on the day but it can be really difficult. That’s not to mention if you have to fight about public access.
- The Price
Getting a dog is expensive. They need a lot of maintenance. Then there is the price of getting gear. You need stimulating toys to keep their minds working when they’re not on duty. It’s beds and kennels. It’s good to have extra leashes. I always have wipes and paper towels in case Crush has an accident. It adds up to be a lot. Not an unbearable price but a lot.
I’m not trying to turn you off from getting a service dog. Crush is the best division I’ve ever made. I’m independent and able to go anywhere I want, once again. I feel safe and secure with Crush around. I know that if my health starts to go south, he knows what to do. My whole future is in front of me and a large part of that is thanks to Crush. It’s important to know what you’re getting into though. I’m glad I went through an organization that thoroughly prepared me for the reality of having a service dog. Without that, I think I would have struggled a lot more the first few weeks. Navigating the world with a service dog is very different than not.