A while ago, I spent time at the Children’s hospital with my son’s service dog (Charlie) and some of the children/teenagers there.
I sat down amongst them with Charlie. First, the smaller kids came over and started loving on him. It was heaven for Charlie because touch is a major love language for him.
The “cool” teenagers started wandering over to check him out. Even the most sullen teenagers made their way over and started loving on Charlie. The change in their demeanor was remarkable. Charlie lives with us. I see the changes he has made in our lives. Often though, I forget how a little time with an animal can turn things around.
My Son took his service dog with him to school previously. Due to his difficulties, he’s been unable to take him with him for the past year. Charlie has been spending the school day with me instead.
I deal with anxiety and sometimes depression. Charlie has been sensing that my anxiety levels have been high. So he has spent a lot of time by my side. I’ve been impressed all over again just how much a difference he can make. Being able to rub his silky soft ears brings my anxiety levels down several levels. When things get really bad, he lays on top of me to provide deep pressure to calm me down.
Charlie is a trained service dog and as such is protected by a Federal Law called Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). He is trained to perform various services for my son whom he works for. Because of this, he is allowed to go anywhere my son goes unless it is somewhere like an operating theatre that has to be sterile.
The way in which I was utilizing Charlie on that particular day, was as an Emotional Support Dog for the other children.
Emotional Support Animals do not have the same privileges under the law as a Service Dog. Emotional Support Dogs (or other animals) are not trained to perform specific tasks like a Service Dog. Instead, they are there to provide emotional support as in this instance.
One of the few protections by law that an Emotional Support Dog has is in the realm of housing and traveling. If you have an Emotional Support Animal and you are renting a house or an apartment, landlords are required to not discriminate against you and allow you to have your Emotional Support Animal in your home even if the property doesn’t allow animals. Airlines are required to allow you to have your Emotional Support Animal on board the flight in the cabin with you. Both Emotional Support Animals and Service Dogs require a Doctor’s prescription to make them legal.