By Grayson Zoller
Sometimes, you can’t get through life all on your own. Sometimes, you need a little help from a friend, and sometimes that friend has fur.
Freshman Abby Crawley has employed the use of a service dog since right before she started sixth grade.
“I had to have someone with me 24/7, so I couldn’t be independent,” Crawley said. “[The dog] kind of gave me that independence back.”
She has had multiple service dogs. Her current dog is Sammy, who is a stand-in for Dakota, who is in training.
The dogs help with her POTS, a heart syndrome that can cause issues with blood flow, and with anxiety problems.
The dogs are specially trained in these fields. They start training at 8 weeks old and are trained by Crawley herself. Sammy, the dog Crawley is currently using in place of Dakota, is almost 2 years old. Dakota is 11 months old.
They’re trained to jump on Crawley when her heart starts to act up. They will also go and find someone to help if it’s needed.
The dogs are trained to be able to handle stressful environments, such as a crowded school or any large public space. This is accomplished by Crawley taking them out into crowded places just weeks after they were born.
The reason for the large “DO NOT PET” vests on the dogs is that petting a service dog can put them out of “work” mode, and they can get distracted. In fact, Crawley says that as soon as the dogs get home, they’re off the clock and no different from any other dog.
Abby has to take the dogs outside to go to the bathroom, which can be inconvenient, as she’s also responsible for cleaning up after them.
Crawley says that people at the school tend to be surprised about the dog, but in other places, they’re just seen as normal.
These dogs can be incredibly useful and drastically improve someone’s life, so whenever you see one, know that you are looking at a very good dog.