Service Dog Guilt
As you may or may not know, I’ve been travelling a fair amount lately. This has significantly opened up my world and broadened my horizons. I have always had an intense love for traveling but traveling with a service dog is very different. For the most part, I can accommodate my trip to my needs and Crush’s needs but other times I can’t. Navigating a balance between his needs and my own can be difficult and sometimes it makes me feel guilty.
Since I started traveling, I have left Crush kenneled more than ever before. There are a variety of reasons why this is the case. First and foremost, the weather is a huge factor. The concrete is often too hot to bring him out for long periods of time. Without traveling back and forth to cool him, I don’t ever want to risk his safety. In these situations, he has to stay back. Other times it’s a personal choice. Sometimes I don’t have the mental capacity to handle him and new situations at once. This is by far the most guilt provoking situation. Finally, there are times where having the battle to get Crush accommodated is not worth it. It’s better off for the situation to leave him.
I want to talk about this guilt because it’s something I never anticipated. Crush is by my side almost 24/7. Covid has bonded us more than I ever thought possible. That is a great thing but now that the world is opening back up and my health is stable, things are bound to change. That change is extremely positive but change is difficult. Crush and I have to learn together what works for us as a service dog team. We both have to remain safe and healthy. A large portion of that for me is having Crush by my side, however, sometimes that isn’t in his best interest.
Having a service dog is a challenging thing to navigate. It’s something that most people don’t understand. It’s easy to say that “I wish I got to have my dog with me all the time.” The reality of it is much more taxing. It’s making sure that all of their needs are met, along with your own. It’s constantly policing kids and worse adults from touching and grabbing. It’s extra time and money. It’s complicated, to put it simply. Crush isn’t as well trained as he is because I get to do whatever I want. He’s well trained because I stick to a very strict set of rules when he’s at home and in public.
Leaving Crush comes with it’s own set of considerations. Mostly my own health and the accepted risk of not having Crush with me. Sometimes not having Crush with me feels really good. For a moment I blend into the crowd and rid myself of all of those considerations. I go through a checklist and wonder if he’s still a necessity in my life. Then, reality hits. I need him and he’s not there. Suddenly, I need to hold onto people to find balance and rest more because it’s taxing on my body to keep pace. I’m back to missing and needing him.
I struggle to admit that sometimes Crush makes life harder. I say that and I can’t properly describe what I mean. Health wise, he makes the world so much easier to navigate. He keeps me safe. Other times, when I’m telling multiple kids to back off and thinking only about his needs, I realize the tax of having him with me. Like I said, It’s a difficult balance. My guilt comes from a place of knowing I need him but wishing I didn’t. I love Crush with my whole heart. I wouldn’t ever give him up, what I wish I could give up is my health issues. I resent the need to have him and feel guilty about it because I love him so much and feel so appreciative to have him. It’s chronic illness grief, plain and simple.
I hope you’re having a great day. I hope that your day is filled with joy, positivity, and laughter. I hope you find peace, love, and happiness.