To the Man Who Doesn't Believe I Need a Service Dog


Two years ago I was diagnosed with PTSD, agoraphobia, bipolar disorder, and major depressive disorder. This year I have been diagnosed with POTS, postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome. My family and I decided that one of the best options for my treatment was a service dog to help me with my panic attacks, my night terrors, and to give me emotional comfort when out in society. Being 14 about to turn 15, I was not in favor of having a Labrador retriever or something similar in size because I didn’t want that kind of attention. So we agreed a Chihuahua would work best for me.

We trained her for a year and a half, and she has since been simply perfect at her job. We have started training once again so she can learn to work with a wheelchair, as I now need one because of my POTS. I understand that because she is so tiny, at first it might be hard to believe she is in fact a service dog. But if you casually watch us going about our daily lives, you can see and judge by her behavior and not her size.

I am assuming (but I’m not sure) that you, sir, did not watch us for even a second before you so rudely told me I looked healthy and there is no reason for me to be dragging along my “service puppy” — your words, not mine. I told you that she was not bothering anyone, and she has every right to be by my side in the store. Before you could say anything else, I turned and walked away. You, sir, have absolutely no right to make that assumption about me.

You have not seen me at my worst, when I wake up in the middle of the night gasping for air because just a second ago I was convinced I was being attacked all over again. You did not see me when I stood up from the bathroom floor, only to fall unconscious again and have no way to call for help because I couldn’t get up and risk fainting again. You are not there for me on the days I can’t even lift my head from my pillow because it would cause me immense nausea — but she is. She brings me a bottle of water to swallow my anti-nausea pills when I can’t get out of bed. She comforts me in the middle of the night when I can’t breathe from the terror of the nightmares. She fetches my cell phone for me so I can call for help without risking my life.

Please, I ask you to keep your thoughts to yourself about all of these “unnecessary service puppies.” These dogs are in fact very helpful to a lot of us with chronic illness or disabilities. You do not see my struggles. Just because you can’t see my disabilities when I’m at the store, it doesn’t mean they’re not there.

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