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My Service Dog Loves His Job

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When I turned 12, along with the normal changes that a teenager gets, I also got something else. My body started to act weird. I would pass out in hallways, having asthma attacks, and my blood pressure would get so low they were worried I would die. I’ve had migraines my entire life; I was 4 the first time I remember being able to communicate it. Those migraines and dizzy spells progressively got worse, until I was hospitalized for an entire month in high school.

After years of battling, when I was 16, my medical team came in and told my parents they thought a service dog may be the solution. We talked to programs in our area, but ended up owner training a dog that a behaviorist helped me pick. His name is Hero, and he is my lifeline.

He alerts to my migraines, allowing me to take my emergency meds so I don’t have to go through them as badly as I used to. My type of migraine is called hemiplegic migraines; they numb the entire left side of my body and are excruciatingly painful. He helps pick things up for me, since my postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS) makes it impossible for me to bend down and stand back up without passing out. He pulls my wheelchair when we are out and about so I don’t hurt my shoulders pushing my wheels. He brings my emergency meds, can go get help, provide relief from my chronic pain by doing deep pressure therapy on my legs, and more.

But I’ve noticed some people seem to think Hero is miserable, and that working him is inhumane and wrong. What they don’t know is that Hero absolutely loves his job. People try to pet him and distract him, which has led to me getting hurt before in the past due to missed alerts or late alerts. It’s absolutely crucial that people not pet my service dog, because without him I would be dead.

Service dogs love their jobs, and I know a lot of people love them too, but it’s absolutely crucial for their person’s safety that they are able to alert without distractions. Trust me, they love you too, but just like any medical equipment, they should be respected and not touched.

Originally published: March 27, 2018
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