I got my Bernese Mountain Dog, Hope, in November of 2008. She was born the day I was released from the psych ward in California. After I tried to kill myself and nearly succeeded. I saw this as a sign.
My parents wanted me to get a dog and I wasn’t sure I could handle the responsibility. You have to understand that at that time I was emotionally frail. I had a hard enough time taking care of myself. How could I care for anything else?
I named her Hope because that is what I needed. Hope that things would get better. Hope that I would live through this illness.
Getting Hope has been one of the most helpful things for my mental well-being. Her personality is funny and she brightens my days. When I am stressed and anxious the repetitive act of petting her soothes me. She is a big dog – 85 pounds – so she makes me feel safe. And being responsible for her life keeps me going.
Because of these reasons I asked my therapist and psychiatrist if they would make her an Emotional Support Animal. There is no official legal registry, but you do need a letter from your psychiatric doctors stating that the dog benefits you. (You can learn more at http://www.servicedogcentral.org/content/).
It is really too much to get into in a single blog post, but I wanted you to be aware that in addition to Service Animals and Therapy Animals, there are Emotional Support Animals. But please, don’t abuse this concept. Just because you love you pet hamster doesn’t make him an Emotional Support Animal. Anyone who has been around, or heard about, Hope and I knows she truly is one.