Mental Health Service Dogs
Dog Owner:Yah… My old lady got me this service dog. SHE said he’ll FIT right into our Family!
Dog: Rowr Snarl
Title: Mental Health Service Dogs
The mental health benefits of companion animals isn’t a novel idea. In the fall issue of Esperanaza magazine, the focus is to give hope to cope with anxiety and depression . One of the articles is about The Power of Pets by Donna Jackel:
“According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the company of a pet can help people who are living with depression. Maybe it’s because cats, dogs and other companion creatures offer unlimited affection and nonjudgmental companionship. They lift our spirits and lower our stress. They counteract symptoms such as isolation, rumination and lethargy.”
My friend, Alicia Sparks, wrote a review of Bruce Goldstein’s “Puppy Chow Is Better Than Prozac: The True Story Of A Man And The Dog Who Saved His Life”…titled Could A Dog Benefit YOUR Mental Health?
The article did get a lot of “buzz” and I really enjoyed the many comments people wrote about the Powers of their pet.
Here are a few comments:
“My greyhound is my life. If I didn’t have her, my mental health would suffer. We walk 2 miles most days of the week, which is good for us both mentally and physically…”
“Countless times i’ve been brought out (temporarily usually) of a very low depression or an insanely high manic episode by the simple thought that my dog, Beans the pug, needs to go out, needs to fed, needs to play or sleep. if it weren’t for her basic needs i would easily neglect my own…”
“I currently have two dogs – a cocker and a lab, and a rabbit, that have helped me through some rough days over the years. And, you’re right, animals do make us step outside of ourselves and learn to appreciate the small things while living less selfishly!”
Alicia’s review about the book…seems more like a regular pet, but what about certified service animals? Yes, there is a difference. Although, I’m not an expert. I know they are trained differently.
On the Psych Central Forum, I found the topic being talked about under “service/therapy dogs.” A forum member that goes by the name Vib,e from what they call The Frozen North, seems to have a better understanding of Mental Health Service animals than me. He commented on the subject saying:
“I did some research on this awhile back and found several people who trained their own animals. I also found there to be a major difference between a service animal and an emotional support animal. An emotional support animal is usually not specially trained, but provides benefits just by being a good companion. These animals can not accompany you in special public places, but you can get special exemptions when it comes to housing restrictions. Or rather, housing which usually does not allow animals can not discriminate against you by demanding you either get rid of the animal or find another place to live. (There may be loopholes to this if the animal is aggressive, destructive, or generally disruptive though. I’m not sure. You’d need to look into that.)”
“A service animal, on the other hand, must be trained to do specific tasks which aid you in overcoming your illness. There is no registry or uniform training the animal must go through, but other than these tasks, the animal should be VERY well trained so it conducts itself properly in public and very well groomed since nobody wants a dirty or allergen ridden animal in places like restaurants and planes. For a dog, I’d get a Canine Good Citizenship (CGC) certificate and go from there. Really, what constitutes ‘tasks’ is kind of a gray zone right now. There are many who say these should be tasks the dog would not otherwise perform and you could not easily get elsewhere.”
Thank you Vibe for this explanation!
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Stewart, C. (2010). Mental Health Service Dogs. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 8, 2015, from http://blogs.psychcentral.com/humor/2010/11/mental-health-service-dogs/