It's crazy to think that this week a year ago, we were just beginning the process of looking into service dogs and whether or not a dog could be an option for me...and I didn't even know this week existed. (Although I suppose I still didn't know this week existed this year either...)
I remember the first time I walked into a store with Leni. It was the second time I had met her, and we were with her trainer and other service-dogs-to-be during one of their weekly training outings. Even with a group of 7-8 dogs in training, I still felt super self-conscious walking into the Halloween store with a dog next to me. I felt even more like I was under a magnifying glass when Leni and I went next door to Bed, Bath, and Beyond with just one of the trainers. We were the only dog in sight, and even though none of the sales associates gave us a second glance, I felt like everyone was staring. Now, 9 months later, it feels weird when I don't have Leni by my side.
|What would I do without this goof?|
One of the biggest adjustments I had to get used to was the fact that I am sick being on display. According to the ADA, service dogs can be used by disabled individuals to perform or assist a person with something they cannot do by themselves. Having Leni has been so incredible for her alerts and giving me some semblance of control over my otherwise uncontrollable mast cells, but it does mean that my invisible illness is now visible.
One of the most common comments that I get from people is that I'm "so lucky" to have my dog with me everywhere. I typically just smile and nod because I don't really know how else to respond...but I wish I could really share what I think when I hear that.
|Although this picture certainly does make me feel lucky =P|
|Working hard or hardly working?|
A year ago I had no idea the scope of tasks that service dogs could do. It has been one crazy year of learning and growing both in my knowledge of service dogs and in my partnership with Leni. While I so wish my health was not at a point where I need her, I am thankful for the health I can have because of her. Plus, thanks to Leni, I get the opportunity to not only raise awareness for service dogs but also for mast cell disease every time I have the opportunity to share about why I have her.
Raising awareness is so much bigger than just one person, though, so as always thank you to all our family and friends for learning about service dogs along with us! Please feel free to share this post and continue being a part of help me raise awareness for mast cell disease and all that comes along with it, including Leni!
|Who could resist this face???|