Contributed by Sandi Martinez
There are some things you cannot train a dog to do. The things that truly make them unique are their capacity to ‘know’; the natural knowing that comes with intuition. Examples are rampant in the different areas of therapy they offer us, as humans. These are called, emotional support animals (ESA). These animal companions help to alleviate many symptoms ranging from PTSD to emotional or physical disabilities. There is a difference however in PSAs (psychiatric support animals) and emotional support animals.
Entire books are written about the incredible therapy, love, and care they offer through very difficult times that we as humans can find ourselves in. While ESA animals do not need training, they offer their super sensitive senses in times of need. A person suffering from social phobias would benefit from the companionship of an ESA (cats, and other animals can also be emotional support Animals). The dog would help to alleviate the stress of coming into contact with several people, and thus their handler can then perform tasks such as grocery shopping.
A PSA is trained to perform task-specific commands. A person whom for example, has trouble picking up things from the floor can get dizzy due to the medications they are taking. Their service dog is trained to pick up other objects that fall to the floor and return them to the handler, without them needing to reach for the ground.
PSAs, do not have the luxury of becoming emotionally stimulated during a crisis that their handler may be experiencing. So how then, can such a thing be trained out of them? It isn’t. They simply use their natural born ‘instinct’ to react in the ways in which are expected.
I can personally attest to how a dog can be an ESA without being certified, and thus becomes just that, ‘An emotionally supportive animal companion’. My parent’s dog Snuffles, has for some reason, become my avid protector. When my dog Samson departed this earth, she somehow decided to be my part-time companion, but more so, my protector; I never asked her to, she just did, and does so with fierce determination! She spends time with me and her human companions in spurts… quite something!
I would like to say THANK YOU to Snuffles, and express a big thanks to the wonderful service animals, PSAs & ESAs out there, who take such wonderful care of their humans.
And what about the handler’s that depend on them, and garner the rich rewards? We can only imagine the multitude of ways they lavish love and appreciation on each other!
More and more individuals need their support, and we can help by passing on as much information as we can to one another. So psst… pass this around!