Don’t Judge Someone With Anxiety

5th November

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.

Anyway.

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.

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Halloween Fun

1st November

Halloween in Australia isn’t very big, and my family have never really celebrated it. But this year in our town a group who support people with disabilities put on a Zombie Walk. It was a fun afternoon at the race course with games, zombie movies and local bands, and everyone (around 600 people) went on a 6km walk through town to promote mental health awareness.

I went along with my Person, Little Sister, and my Person’s friend who we’ll call Geek-Friend. She is very nice and is very similar to my Person in as much as she suffers severe social anxiety, so she understands my Person’s situation very well. Geek-Friend, if you couldn’t guess, loves all sorts of geeky things and she comes over every week to watch shows like Star Wars and Futurama.

My Person dressed me up as a Houndour, which is a type of Pokemon. There were a few people who got my costume, but most people just thought I was a skeleton dog which was fine.

The people in charge of the event knew my Person and Little Sister from youth and disability groups, so they were very happy to see me accompanying my Person. Especially since I am primarily a psychiatric service dog and it was an event promoting mental health awareness.

However the security guards that worked at the race course who were there to make sure everyone was behaving themselves didn’t like having me there. We were expecting to have some access issues so my Person had brought along my coat and ID card. The first time my Person showed the security guard my ID it was clear the he was sceptical, but didn’t say anything and just walked off. When we came back from the Zombie Walk through town we stopped to talk to another friend and another security guard came over and asked to see the ID we had shown the other guy. We were very grateful when the friend we were talking to stepped in for us and reassured the guard that service dogs are allowed everywhere with their handler and that I was not a problem. The guard insisted that I take off my costume and put on my coat to “save all the confusion” the security guards were the only ones confused by this, no one else cared at all.

Apart from the anxiety and stress my Person had, caused by having to talk to big, scary security guards it was a very fun afternoon. I got lots of cuddles and pats, and everyone took photos of me. I didn’t even mind wearing my costume.

Hope everyone had a safe Halloween and got lots of yummy treats.

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Explaining My Absence

28th October

Sorry it has been so long since my last post, not a lot has happened since my Person has been busy with her exams. In Australia, New South Whales at least, high school students do their final exams after graduating. Makes a lot of sense, right?

Anyway she has been using the computer which means that I haven’t been able to post any updates recently. But now that her exams are all finished I’ll be able to get back to posting updates on my training.

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My First Cinema Experience

26th September

It has been quite boring around here lately. My Person hasn’t been going to school and doesn’t have any sort of social life besides me and our family, so she hasn’t really left the house except to go grocery shopping.

So today we decided on a whim to go to the cinema. There was a movie playing that my Person had been putting off seeing because there was never anyone to go to with, but to hell with that! I wanted to go too.

We arrived quite early, because my Person was a little worried that we would have to justify my being there. But the only thing the man behind the counter said was, “Aw. What a beautiful dog”

In the theatre we found the disabled seating, we normally don’t use any disabled facilities because there are often other people who need it more than us. But there wasn’t anyone else using it so I got a nice big open space to lay in. My Person had a blanket for me to lay on so I didn’t accidentally lay in any sticky stuff (cinema floors are gross) and I got a tasty liver biscuit to snack on through the movie.

I was very well behaved during the movie, I slept through most of it though. Even when I accidentally got stepped on by an old man when he got up to take his grandson to the bathroom during the movie. And I wasn’t scared of the loud noises (it was an action movie) even though they made my Person jump.

After the movie had finished my Person and I waited until the theatre was almost empty to leave, it was pretty funny when the strangers who passed us as they realised that there was a dog in the theatre the whole time, they were very surprised. And when we were walking out of the theatre and down to the main exit we passed a little girl, she called to her father saying, “Daddy! Daddy! Look! There’s a dog behind you!” and her dad went, “That’s great…” and she went, “Look! Look! Look!” until he finally turned around. He was very shocked to actually find a dog behind him.

Hopefully this is something my Person and I can do more often. I like doing things with her and she wants to do more regular teenage things.

Antics Of Arlert The Autism Assistance Pup

Part 1

We should have learnt by now that Arlert, like a toddler, should never be let out of our sight. While he is adorable and cuddly and a big help during meltdowns the young Cavalier King Charles Spaniel pup is your stereotypical little boy and cannot be trusted, he is in fact been given the nickname “Devil Child” because of his carefree and destructive nature.

Today, thanks to Arlert, was very exciting – and a little infuriating.

Half a block had been left, wrapped up and buried under a pile of clothes and other junk, on the lounge chair. But nothing is ever safe from Arlert, who is the master tracker.

When the room was empty, Arlert tracked down the rouge chocolate block and devoured it. All 100grams of chocolate, and he also had a fair go at the wrapper too.

Here is a little perspective: Arlert weighs about 5kg, and he ate 100g of chocolate, which is 2% of his body weight. If a person weighs 60kg, they would have to eat over a kilo of chocolate to eat as much as Arlert did today.

By the time Arlert arrived at our local vet he was climbing the walls because of the caffeine overload, like he had just drunk a hundred cups of coffee.

Arlert was fine in the end but he has certainly not learnt anything from his experience. We know this because the moment we were home he shot straight into the lounge room and licked up all the remaining chocolate crumbs off the floor.

More updates of Arlert’s antics coming soon. 🙂

Service Dogs and Walkers

18th September

My Person and I were able to test out her new walker today (what exciting lives we do lead 🙂 ) when we went to Bunnings for cleaning supplies.

It’s great! Crutches are alright for most occasions but the walker is much better for long periods of walking and standing, which is difficult for people with chronic fatigue and pain. The walker is more stable and less dangerous on wet floors (it’s been raining up here the last few days) and it’s like a portable seat, so she can sit down whenever she needs it.

I handled the change in equipment very well, it does take a minute or two to adjust my pace to match that of my Person and I have to learn how to manoeuvre around the walker, boxes and members of the public all at the same time.

It’s funny seeing the way strangers interact with my Person based on the type of equipment she is using.

  • Service Dog Only: my Person must be training me for “some poor disabled person”
  • Crutches: people will clarify with my Person whether or not she is training me for someone else or if I belong to her
  • Walker: it’s strange to see such a young person with a walker, people will actively avoid looking at my Person because she must have a severe disability to need both a walker AND service dog

In Bunnings we saw a man carrying a little white poodle. We had no complaints because it was very well behaved, but it wasn’t a service dog. It is not the first time we have come across pet dogs in Bunnings, no one seems to mind as long as they are behaving themselves. Most people carry them or have them sitting in the trolley. I was very good with the other dog, mainly because it wasn’t barking or growling at me (which is a first!) and I walked right by it without any trouble.

It was a fun day and things are looking good for us 🙂

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YES!! Graduation Day Has Finally Come!

17th September

Although I am just a dog I know how exciting this time of year is for HSC students, it marks the end of thirteen years of their school lives and the start of their adult life. But this year is especially exciting because, after dragging her HSC over two years due to illness and misadventure, MY PERSON HAS FINALLY GRADUATED HIGH SCHOOL!!

I am VERY excited because it means that from now on I will never have to leave her side again! Even when she gets a job or goes to University/TAFE I will be able to go with her! Hooray! My Person, although she wanted to take me to High School with her, we decided that it would have been far too stressful because of all the younger and immature kids.

Congratulations to all HSC students who graduated this week! Good luck in the real world!

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