I have found that having an emotional support dog with me in the dorms has helped me significantly. From getting up in the morning to starting conversations, Ellie has been there for me. However, there is an issue with having an emotional support dog; she isn't able to fully help me to the level that I need. Prior to making Ellie my emotional support dog, my family and medical professionals were prepared to go one step further and get a Service Dog.
I was honestly overwhelmed with the idea of just now getting a service animal to help me in my day-to-day life, especially at the age of 20. I debated the process of owner training my own Service Dog and how it would affect not only myself, but people in my life.
I was unsure if it would be worth the effort this late into college while pursuing a degree in Animal Sciences & Industry, the Pre-Vet option. I was nervous that I would have to give up my passion of helping animals and becoming a vet when I would get a Service Dog.
After talking to various people, including Sigma Alpha sisters, I finally became confident that a Service Dog would be worth all of the effort at this point in time. When my fellow sisters found out that I was getting a Service Dog, they were more than accepting of it; they were extremely supportive and were excited for me. I am thankful to have so many sisters that really do help to guide and support each other in making life altering decisions.
With that being said, over spring break I received my Service Dog Prospect. Her name is Iris and she is a black lab pup that is now almost three months old. After getting her, I became even more excited to start my journey of becoming a Service Dog Handler and to begin working as a team to benefit my way of living.
The main question I get now is why do I still have Ellie in the dorms and not my Service Dog Prospect? Well, the main reason is that Iris is just that: a Service Dog Prospect, which means she is a potential Service Dog that has to go through rigorous training to see if she can earn her Service Dog title. Additionally, she is a young pup who has not mastered house training yet, which would be very problematic in a dorm. So, Iris is spending the next few months with my parents and brothers back at home in Shawnee, KS to work on basic training until I am done with the semester.
Next semester will be difficult with a Service Dog in training while still taking 14 credit hours, but I am ready for the challenge, as I have a wonderful support system.