6 Things I Wish You Knew Before Seeing My Service Dog


I have fought tooth and nail against my disabilities for as long as I can remember. My brain seems to want me to die, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to let it win. And my fight has gotten so much easier since I got my dog. She’s in training to be a service dog, and she’s already my lifeline. Dulce is the greatest gift I could ever have been given. The rest of the world’s response to her… is not.

Here are six things I wish you knew before seeing my service dog.

1. Dulce is super cute. I know it, you know it,she knows it (I tell her every chance I get). She also has an important job: keeping me safe. Making kissy faces at her, petting her, calling out to her, or otherwise distracting her puts me in serious danger.

2. Even though she doesn’t look like a typical service dog, Dulce isn’t a fake. Service dogs can be any breed as long as they are physically able to perform their individual tasks, healthy, and have the right temperament. They’re not just golden retrievers and labs! Service dogs also aren’t required to have any identifying gear in the U.S., so a dog without a vest can still be a service dog.

3. I know I don’t “look disabled,” but service dogs are for invisible illnesses as well. Her “In Training” patches don’t mean I’m training her for someone else. I’m not “faking” so I can bring Dulce out with me. My service dog in training assists me with PTSD, anxiety, depression, and migraines. You can’t see my conditions, but they are there, they are disabling, and they are infinitely more manageable with Dulce there to help me.

4. My dog is not unhappy because she is a working dog! If she didn’t have the desire to work, I wouldn’t work her. It wouldn’t be fair to me to have a subpar service dog and it wouldn’t be fair to Dulce to force her to work. She gets plenty of off time to “just be a dog”.

5. Having Dulce with me is not an invitation to ask me about my medical history. Sorry, random stranger at the supermarket, but I don’t want to tell you my personal information. Sometimes I’m happy to talk to people and educate about service dogs, but most of the time I want to buy milk and go home. I try to be polite and accommodating, but it’s hard being stopped every five feet. Especially if I’m having a bad day with my illnesses and don’t have the energy to answer questions.

6. Most importantly: No, healthy person, you don’t want a service dog. You want to be able to take your pet everywhere with you. I understand. I love dogs, too. But service dogs aren’t pets, they are highly trained to assist someone with a disability. Saying you wish you had a service dog is tantamount to saying you wish you had a disability. Would you go up to someone on oxygen and say, “Gosh, I wish I needed assistance breathing. That must be so great!” Please don’t tell me you envy my need for medical equipment to function on a basic human level. I love Dulce. I am incredibly grateful for her and I’m so happy she is part of my life, but I would rather not need her.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.


Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.


Related to Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

A mother and daughter walking through the woods

A Letter to My Daughter, From Your Trauma-Recovering Momma

Dear my sweet little girl, I worry that at times you’re feeling the brunt of my childhood trauma, because you have now become my teacher; your love and existence my lessons. Is that normal for every parent? I don’t know, and that in itself is part of what is most terrifying to me about being [...]
A silhouette of a child sitting by a window

Mourning the Loss of My 'Inner Child'

When I was just little, I was taken away from myself. Through the selfish and violent actions of others, the innocence of the child within me was destroyed and broken, eradicated as though she never existed. All her hopes and dreams died. Her emotions were quashed, battered and buried. She was gone. I’ve heard it [...]
A woman at the doctor

6 Topics to Cover With Your Doctor When You Have Postpartum Depression

When I was two weeks postpartum and my parents had to go back to their normal lives, Baby BP was, by nature, being a baby. Specifically and honestly, he was a preemie. So he had less motivation to nurse. He was hungry every two hours, and he cried, a lot. I wanted to be able [...]
A woman swimming underwater

Where I Go When I'm Having a 'PTSD Moment'

This is something I wrote for my wife to help her understand what a PTSD moment feels like for me. It’s very difficult for her to understand that this is going on inside me even though I look like I am watching paint dry. We sit in comfortable silence. Comforted by the fact that the [...]