Service Animal Impact


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Social Media: Instagram: @abilitywithamy


Having an emotional support animal around makes life easier, especially for me, as a person who has struggled with the depression and anxiety that came with my disability. I personally have a cat that definitely helped me with my mental health; I had a couple of times where my depression had a really strong hold on me. But my love for him was such that I knew I had to get up for his well-being and happiness. And he still does that for me daily, even if I don't really notice it or it's more automatic now.

Of course there are massive annoyances, like dealing with their excrement or behavioral issues or them being in the way of you/your mobility aids, etc. But overall, they are great for helping you mentally, and physically if they are a trained service animal. The bond that comes from an animal helping you function in the world in any way is so strong. And whether they are working at the time or not doesn't automatically break that bond, even though it may be a different type depending on what you are doing and how they assist you.

One type is when you cuddle with them and sometimes you might be upset or frustrated and cry, and that's ok because they're comforting you. I've cried into my cat's fur many times. Or maybe even when you play with them. Leisure time with a pet can be therapeutic and great. Whether they are a pet, an emotional support animal, or a service animal doesn't really matter in a moment like this; together you are a human and animal and you don't want to compromise their training, you just want and need downtime. 

Another type is a service animal helping you move and function in the world; there are a multitude of reasons and functions for/of a service animal and all of them are designed to make your life easier, whether they are trained to detect your blood sugar, help mitigate seizures, or any other medical reason. Maybe you use them to help with balance or to help you literally be your eyes and move through the world if you are blind. The bond there is strong because they are helping you to live a more independent life.

There are different ways having a trained service animal can provide support as a person with disability and finding the right one for you can be challenging. There are quite literally hundreds of combinations of types of service animals and the training they receive, so I encourage you to find possibilities for yourself or ask someone who might know what your specific needs are. The most common type of service animal is a dog, and there is a multitude of breeds with different temperaments, sizes, and of course training. There are different species as well, so that's something to consider. 

No matter what, your bond is very important and obviously they rely on you too. The trust definitely goes both ways, and that's what makes the bond so strong. It's important to remember that the reciprocation aspect is vital and although service animals aren't for everyone, it can be life-changing for the better to have one. Just remember, they're doing a job and they're working, so when they get interrupted by another person trying to have fun with them, they are no longer helping you and that isn't great for you or them, because they are distracted from doing the job that they are trained to do.

Especially for disabled people, you can feel alone and sad and having an animal (whether it is a dog, cat, mini horse, pig, etc.) really helps with that, because as your life is changing, whether because of disability or not, it can be incredibly isolating. An animal stays with you for those twists and turns and it makes a massive difference. 

With the ongoing pandemic, having an animal around feels like you're keeping your head above water. It takes time to form that bond, but it's very much worth it.