If you ask any of the members of my family to describe us, each would likely include our dog in that description. Our current dog Sasha was discovered at the Humane Society by our daughter, Julia. I asked Julia, “Why do you think our dog is good for us?” She quickly came back, “Sasha is playful and joyful, yet calming, soothing, relaxing, and comforting.” She said, “Sasha is sad when you’re sad and happy when you’re happy; a companion that loves you unconditionally; and on top of all that, SHE IS SO CUTE!”
Our son Preston points out how the dog protects our home by bark-warning us of intruders and cleaning the floor of bug-alluring food spilled from the dinner table. Our son Carter referenced how the dog says to us in dog-speak, “Car ride? I wanna go.” or, “Family is home, HOORAY!” Carter said, “It has something to do with her innocence, blind faith, and pure enthusiasm.”
The four dogs I have loved in my lifetime could each be described by those same descriptors. It doesn’t matter whether a person is emotionally devastated or filled with confidence, everyone can use a little companionship and unconditional love, especially during the lonely episodes that we all face, from time to time.
Different than a loving pet is a specially trained service dog. Service dogs are specially trained dogs who help individuals with mental or physical disabilities. Dogs can pull a person in a wheelchair, protect a person having a seizure, remind a person with mental illness to take their medicine, and calm a person with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) during an anxiety attack. Service animals are not restricted to just canines. Recently, miniature horses have been helpful for some disabled, and after special training, are being accepted as service animals as well.
Service dogs (and sometimes miniature horses) are allowed in places which serve the public, like restaurants or libraries. To allow this, however, the dogs or horses must be specially trained to perform specific tasks for their handler and be well behaved in public. Separate from these service animals are animals providing emotional support. Along with service animals, emotional support animals are allowed to live in housing that has a ‘no pets policy’ when a medical professional certifies that the individual has a verifiable disability and that the animal in question provides a benefit. Different from service dogs and miniature horses, comfort and emotional support pets do not need special training, but are often expected to be disciplined and well trained.
No question, our dog Sasha provides plenty of comfort and emotional support.