As a psychiatric service dog, one of the jobs I do is give support to my Person during anxiety attacks. Lately I have had my job cut out for me, since my Person is planning a trip to visit Father. I haven’t ever met him, but he does exist. My Person and Little Sister visit in school holidays and they usually just leave me at home, but now that my Person has finished school Father wants her to go up to stay for a few months.
The idea of this has caused nothing but trouble for my Person and she has been suffering ridiculous amounts of anxiety this past week or so.
There are few problems (a few too many). And, since this blog is a good place to vent and blow off a bit of steam, I will be covering some. Since it is much a problem for me as it is for my Person.
Firstly, Father doesn’t believe in Lyme Disease and makes my Person feel guilty about taking medication for it. He also does not understand Little Sister and can’t deal with her. Father also believes that Mother makes my Person “babysit” Little Sister, it is true that my Person has to be strict with Little Sister when they visit Father because she doesn’t take her medication without a lot of yelling and persuasion (this happens every day) and Father has no interest in making Little Sister actually take her medicine. Obviously my Person feels compelled to take care of Little Sister because no one else is going to.
Father also doesn’t like dogs all that much. And doesn’t even know that I am my Person’s service dog, because what would she need a service dog for? There’s nothing wrong with her! It has taken a lot of convincing for him to even allow me to accompany my Person on this visit. And my Person was incredibly surprised when he said that I was even allowed to stay INSIDE! Wow!
Obviously Father is not a terrible person. But the fact that he refuses to believe that there is anything wrong with my Person and that he is unable to handle Little Sister makes visiting him very taxing on my Person and causes a lot of anxiety.
To add to the anxiety my Person doesn’t know how long she wants to stay. She is expected to stay two or three months, but doesn’t know how to tell Father that that is far too long and would be overwhelming for her. And since Little Sister makes it VERY clear how uncomfortable staying with Father is for her she will only be able to stay a week or two, which means my Person will be left alone (I’ll be with her but still). Mother is encouraging her to come home the same time as Little Sister, but Father is very insistent that she stay and have some time without having to take care of Little Sister.
AND, to make things worse it is a two day train trip from our home to Father’s, or a three day drive. My Person can drive but suffers chronic fatigue and we can’t take an airplane while I’m still in training (only fully qualified service dogs can go on planes), so we thought the train would be best. WELL, DON’T TRAIN COMPANIES JUST MAKE IT SOOOO EASY FOR SERVICE DOGS TO TRAVEL ON THEIR LINES?! We are travelling inter-state and laws regarding service dog’s change depending on which state you live in, so we needed a pass from NSW which allowed in training service dogs and another one from QLD that has different protocols depending if the dog is owner trained or through an organization. My Person spent hours (literally) on the phone with the different rail companies trying to make arrangements and although the people were nice enough they knew absolutely nothing about service dogs. It was stressing my Person out so much that she just went “SCREW IT! I’M DRIVING!”
Which also means she can bring other things she could bring on the train, like her clarinet and saxophone, maybe even her bass. My Person likes music. I don’t. I hide under the lounge when she plays the piano, not because she sucks but because I’m very sensitive to sounds.
The important thing to remember is to never judge a person who suffers anxiety.
Something that might seem simple to you and not worth losing sleep over it may be the hardest, most difficult, stressful thing they have ever done.
Don’t be surprised if a person with anxiety can’t explain what is bothering them, because it is very likely that they aren’t exactly sure themselves. And certainly don’t get angry at them. That will make things a hundred times worse. Guaranteed.
Please be respectful.