“The world would be a nicer place if everyone had the ability to love as unconditionally as a dog.” – M.K. Clinton
“Bow-wow-wow-yippie-yo-yippie-yeah. Bow-wow-yippie-yo-yippie-yeah” – George Clinton
A couple of months ago we adopted Trevor with the intent of training him to be a psychological service dog for me. We knew going in that it was a long-shot. We now know that he won’t be a service dog. His prey drive is too high. We could spend thousands of dollars on training but this instinct is not going to be trained out of him no matter how much we spend. Trevor will never be a service dog, but he is a heck of a dog, a great emotional support animal for me, and an outstanding family pet.
Since we adopted him Trevor and I are both thriving. He is my constant companion, and has helped tremendously with anxiety and panic. He is a pit/lab mix and as such is very energetic. That has been beneficial for me because it forces me to be more physically active, which has therapeutic benefits. We walk about 4 to 6 miles a day together. He loves to go hiking with me. He loves swimming in the creek. He loves to play fetch. He is also very affectionate and can be a giant lap dog at times, especially when he can tell that I am not feeling well.
I haven’t been able to start working full-time yet due to some issues with bureaucracy, but I have been able to work some in my future workplace. It is a dog-friendly environment and Trevor has been well-behaved there. As long as I take him out to the park next door every couple of hours and throw a tennis ball to him he is more than happy to lay down at my feet and just chill while I work. His presence there is calming and helps to reduce my stress levels while I am working.
The dog-friendly environment at work makes the fact that he won’t be a service animal less of an issue. And because he’s registered as an emotional support animal he will always be allowed to live with me per the ADA, even if a landlord has a no pets policy. He will also be allowed to travel with me on airplanes provided he behaves.
Unlike service animals, emotional support animals aren’t allowed in businesses and restaurants that don’t allow pets, but that has a relatively small impact on our lives. I don’t go out much, and when I do it is usually to the park, the baseball field, or the hiking trails. He is plenty welcome in all of those places. In the event that my partner and I go on a date Trevor can just stay home with the kids.
Trevor isn’t perfect. He is a dog, after all, and he does dog things. He doesn’t respect the kids like he respects me. He won’t listen to their commands or come when they call as much, and he is smart enough to be able to take advantage of them when they don’t fully shut the door or if they leave their food a little too close to the edge of the table or the counter. He has chewed up a few of the kids’ toys when they’ve been left out on the floor. He is prone to chase squirrels at inopportune times and he has an incredibly antagonistic relationship with my mother’s cat. He’s not perfect.
Trevor isn’t a service dog like we’d hoped he would be. He’s “just” a dog. But he’s my dog. He is my family’s dog. And I couldn’t think of a better dog for me and my family than Trevor. While he may not be “perfect” he is perfect for us, and we love him more than words can express.