If you read any post, PLEASE read this one!!
September is National Service Dog Month; many of you know Pia Pia is a Hearing/ Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Service Dog for her Dad who is a veteran. When she was adopted from a local no-kill shelter it was the intent for her to keep him company so I could just run errands without the constant calling when would I be returning. However, during obedience training at a local pet store we ran into a dog trainer who introduced us to a service dog trainer who felt that she could do more than just keep him company. With his dedication and her dedication as well as the guidance/ assistance of the trainers she and he started the intense training of a service dog team. Well, slightly less than two years after adopting Pia Pia she became a dual certified Service Dog. It took a little bit more time but with her by his side our lives changed with traveling by plane and car from traveling across the country twice, seeing National Parks, visiting family/friends, and just enjoying life again. From him being a recluse and making simple errands like going to a grocery store miserable to enjoying life and having fun.
But this post is more than just about celebrating what service dogs do for those with a disability whether that disability is a physical or mental disability, it is the joy of what a dog or any pet can do to enlighten our lives. Her Dad not only suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder but also a terminal illness which happens to be genetic. This genetic illness is rare but bought us to another family very similar my husband. The wife is a nurse, her husband also diagnosed with this condition and they have three children. The three children all were diagnosed with the illness however only one was symptomatic where the other two are not. Her husband and mine are similar in age, similar with in age when the onset of the condition and my husband has four children (three who are at risk). Huntington’s Disease is the illness. Once diagnose a patient usually has 10-18 years but can differentiate pending the patient, family environment and such. It is best to keep a routine and reduce stress that helps to prolong the life of a HD patient. She and I realized we both had so much in common with our husbands, worried about the children, and having a career. One day though I got the call I dreaded, she called to inform me her husband changed the routine. From the time she left for work and the time the neighbor came to have coffee and watch the morning news, her husband decided he did not want to face his future of what this illness was going to do to him, to his wife and his children. Yes, he took his life. I was speechless; I just had no clue what to say. As time pass we drifted apart because we did not have the similarities and I felt awkward talking about another year or milestone with my husband or something about the children we got to celebrate.
Recently we reconnected, I apologized for abandoning her but I felt at a loss. She understood and stated she probably would have done the same. Still no excuse for my actions but we can’t look back we can only move forward. It was nice to be able to pick up where we left off however she did lose her one daughter to HD but she still has her son and daughter who are still asymptomatic. After a lengthy conversation, she stated to me she realized the difference that my husband had that her husband did not have, I asked her what? A pet. Your husband has Pia Pia. She honestly feels that if her husband would have had a pet whether a cat, dog, rabbit or such he would not have felt what he did to make that fateful decision. She stated she noticed the difference in my husband once Pia Pia came into his life.
I nor she is saying a pet is for everyone but you never know what a difference a pet can make. If you have tried everything such as medicines, counselors, friends, family, and doctors why not take the opportunity to try a pet. A pet can do something no one else can. Donating or volunteering at an organization to help pets for those in needs such as pets for Veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, children with Autism, and so on please do. Support organizations that support those types of organizations such as Plato Pet Treats who donates a dollar toward their Plato Wags Back program.
I can personally tell you from experience that without Pia Pia I do not think my husband would be here today let alone be able to travel, enjoy time with his children and me. Respect a person with a Service Dog whether you can see their disability or not. Not all disabilities can be seen.
Thank you for those who support, sponsor, service dog organizations and service dog trainers. We truly appreciate what you do. Happy National Service Dog Month!