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Service Dogs Can Assist with Many Invisible Disabilities

Updated on September 21, 2013

Would you consider using a service dog if you had an invisible disability that could be helped by the dog?

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"Why use service dogs for invisible disabilities?" you ask.

Why not? A disability is a disability, and dogs are amazingly attuned to their humans' needs and moods. Is someone with epilepsy helped less than someone with hearing or vision loss? Not if that dog is trained to help them in the unique ways in which they need help.

Even the government is starting to promote the use of service animals for veterans returning with PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) because the dog can provide a grounding or stabilizing force for the person with PTSD. Trained dogs can help compensate and care for the disabled person in ways that a routine doctor's visit or medication can't.

Besides, how many people who are blind actually LOOK blind without their white canes? How many people look deaf?

Service dogs, prescribed by a medical doctor, aren't just for certain disabilities, they can be trained to help with MANY disabilities in ways unique to each individual. Examples of invisible disabilities that may be helped by a service animal:

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    • profile image

      Mary 

      3 years ago

      I am a new owner of a border puppy.

      I have R.A. (five years since diagnosis).

      And am very quiet about the constant pain I go through on a daily bases.

      I try my best to push through, and be your average 37 year old.

      I find it extreamly painful to bend down, and get back up.

      I am told daily, that I am too young for all the pains I feel, in return, it makes me feel ashamed.

      I just told my husband tonight I purchased a training coarse for our little boy, and will continue through the A.D.A service dog training that follows obedience classes.

      And he asked why I needed that, and then asked me what a dog would do to help?

      And follwed up by saying by the time I am crippled, the dog will be too old to help.

      I am now feeling very silly about the whole idea.

      As I did not have many answers, I am thinking, if only my puppy can pick things up I drop, it would be worth it's weight in gold.

      It is a struggle to explain to those around you, that take the simple things in life for granted, that you would be happy to bend down and pick up the pen you dropped without feeling like a knife just went through your knee caps.

      I belive, it is the invisable disabilities, that hurt the very most.

      Thank you, for all the comments, I have decided to go ahead and train my boy,and look forward to our journey together.

      My very best to each of you.

    • Laura Schneider profile imageAUTHOR

      Laura Schneider 

      3 years ago from Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota, USA

      Zach Richardson, thank you for your service and sacrifice for our country! I am glad that you appreciated this article. There is still so much ignorance on the topic of service dogs and invisible disabilities. Best wishes to you and your pup, and be well!

    • Zachrichardson profile image

      Zachrichardson 

      3 years ago

      I am an Iraqi Freedom war veteran and I have a service dog myself. I was so happy to see this hub when I came across it because of the subject matter. It is unfortunate for some of us veterans who have to jump through hoops, as it seems, to convince store owners that we need them. I had brain surgery in 2011 and to be totally honest, I would be lost without my pup. Thank you so much for taking the time to post this and look forward to your work from now on.

    • Laura Schneider profile imageAUTHOR

      Laura Schneider 

      4 years ago from Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota, USA

      Rhonda, I'm sorry to hear of your illnesses! The best way to find out more about service dogs for invisible disabilities is to google "service dogs for invisible disabilities" and visit some of the excellent organizations that can help. You will also need to work with your doctors to get their support in writing for your use of a service dog. It's also possible to work with professionals to train your own service dog, rather than getting one from an organization. I hope this helps!

    • profile image

      rhonda 

      4 years ago

      I have fibromyalgia and generalized anxiety disorder plus poss I am bipolar I wanted to know how would I go about getting a service dog because I yahoo thatched may help.please let me know

    • Laura Schneider profile imageAUTHOR

      Laura Schneider 

      4 years ago from Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota, USA

      I'm so sorry to learn about RSD in this way. My heart goes out to you and all of its other sufferers, June Ingram! I wish you all the best!

    • profile image

      June Ingram 

      4 years ago from Whitesburg, GA 30185

      What is an invisible disability? I have an invisible disability, RSD, which I aquired after 12 multiple surgeries within an 8 month period. Foot Surgery Gone Seriously Bad! For those that don't know what RSD is, it's a nerve disorder that is EXTREME PAIN 23/7! It feels as if there's a HUGE butcher knife stuck in you as far as it could possibly go, all the while it's being twisted and thrust into you over and over again...non stop!

      Once I was deemed Disabled through Social Security with the RSD, I began treatment for RSD and there is basically only one main treatment and that is Extreme Pain Management!

    • profile image

      Lynne Thompson 

      4 years ago

      I have spinal stenosis. Basically my spine is crushing my spinal cord extremely painful. Having trouble getting dressed, lifting my arm mostly on my right side. I also have osteoarthritis .I'm in bed most of the time, I think a service dog would help with my depression! As I age I am going to only get worse. I have no family only my husband. Thank god I have him!

    • Laura Schneider profile imageAUTHOR

      Laura Schneider 

      4 years ago from Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota, USA

      Tina--

      Send me email via my profile page (through the "feedback" page, I believe there is a link) with your private email address included in the body and I will get back to you ASAP from my private email address. I don't think either email address will be available to the general public if it's done this way. I'm happy to help and wish you the best of luck in advance! A service dog for an asthmatic child is a great idea (as long as the child isn't allergic to dogs, of course. LOL) and many service dogs assist asthmatics! There are pros and cons, however. (I should write a Hub about that...)

      --Laura

    • profile image

      Tina 

      4 years ago

      Laura,

      How do I get your private email to ask you about how I can go about getting a service dog for my asthmatic child?

      Tina

    • Laura Schneider profile imageAUTHOR

      Laura Schneider 

      4 years ago from Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota, USA

      The dog would need to alleviate symptoms of your actual disabilities, depression and asthma in your case, not just help you cope better in general (though it helps with that, too)!

    • profile image

      kelly.rollins 

      4 years ago

      I have had breast cancerand have depressiontest asthma and I think that it would help me stay calmYour Comment...

    • Laura Schneider profile imageAUTHOR

      Laura Schneider 

      5 years ago from Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota, USA

      lynda davies, no apologies for the rant! I rant on this topic frequently myself (even if nobody's listening). I'm so sorry you have invisible disabilities, but I think indeed a service dog might help you: at the very least, it makes your invisible disabilities "visible" to others, and thereby your life might be a bit easier. You can train your own service dog with the help of professional trainers, or you can get on a 5-10 year waiting list with multiple service dog training schools. I recommend training your own with the help of professionals: it's faster and good for your health, too! Plus, you bond with the dog from 8 weeks onward. Email me privately for more info if you choose this route or want more info!

    • profile image

      lynda davies 

      5 years ago

      I have been thinking about a serves dog for some time now as I suffer with epilepsy diabetes arthritis depression ashma p t s d so as you can see I suffer from quite a few illnesses and all of them cannot be seen its sometimes difficult to explain to people cause what I get back is well you look ok that's like everyone I no are telling me that I look good because I have lost a lot of weight but its the diabetes doing it they just dont under stand because they cannot see nothing wrong with me sorry rant over .

    • Laura Schneider profile imageAUTHOR

      Laura Schneider 

      5 years ago from Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota, USA

      Thanks so much for your kudos! I'm passionate about making service dogs an integrated part of our health treatment programs and getting them accepted by the public just as wheelchairs and white canes are.

    • AccumulateAmerica profile image

      April 

      5 years ago from Catawba, NC

      Hey Laura, reading your articles. I want to thank you as one of those often confused of those invisible disabilities. Every little bit helps! Some days I am good, and people can't see my issues. Not like the days I take a stumble or fall (when my guy misses a catch which is rare.). Thank you for adding to the public knowledge. A major part of what I write about. Great job.

    • Laura Schneider profile imageAUTHOR

      Laura Schneider 

      6 years ago from Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota, USA

      Thank you, everyone, for your detailed comments and praise. I can only try to imagine what you go through and how hard it is to make it through the day. Jim, I must respectfully disagree with "registering" a service dog and providing a card or papers to gain access to a public venue. (That might be a good article.)

      I will try to write more articles about service dogs for invisible disabilities soon. Do you have any suggestions on what the topics should be? (You can either post your idea(s) here or send me a private email through the link above.)

    • profile image

      Jim Gatacre 

      6 years ago

      I have a service dog for pain and agitation caused by constant pain. ASlthough the pain does not go away my service dog refocuses my energy away from the negative feelings caused by pain. She also keeps me very active and much more social.

      Go to freemypaws.com to get more information & register your service dog. I registered mine and it is the best thing I could do. My dog now gets 'carded' at places to eat, planes, etc.

      Cheers Jim

    • profile image

      sue sullivan 

      7 years ago

      /Feb 4,2011 was the first day I noticed symptoms that would be diagnosed as psoriatic arhtitis. My life has changed sompletely, can't lift my grandson, can't ride my horse, chronic pain in fingers. wrists, knees, toes all swollen (inflammatory arthritis). In 8mos. my life has become unrecognizable. So far nothing helps pain. I'd had a flu the week before the onset. My constant companion thru this misery is my chihuahua, he sits on my hands to warm the joints and never judges steady love and licks. I want him to be able to be a service dog so he can help calm me (high blood pressure too) and distract from pain. Has anyone got a pain relief dog helping them in any way?

    • profile image

      Michelle 

      7 years ago

      Hi,

      I am Michelle Lopez I have Asthma and my Doctor has agreed I need a Service Dog to help alert me on the onset of an attack. I have had asthma all my life and I am not getting any better. I need a dog to open doors, get the phone, my medication, turn on lights, help me walk when I have an attack. among other things.I would like to have a better quality of life. Like every body else, I would love to go for walk that would help if I had a dog I could exercise my lungs and body. I could go places knowing that I would have a dog that could alert me before I get to the point that I cant breath. I would also like to educate people that have asthma there is help for them with a service dog. I would feel calm knowing that I am not alone when I do have asthma attacks which is at least 5 times a day. I am not allergic to dogs and have grown up with them most of my life. the last 17 years I have not had one and I really miss the companion of a dog. I can't just have any dog because of my condition so I am asking for a service dog as my Doctor has agreed it would help me have a better quality of life and for emergencies.. Please feel free to contact me at michelle_lopez1962@yahoo.com Thank you,

      Michelle Lopez

    • izettl profile image

      Laura Izett 

      8 years ago from The Great Northwest

      LOVE the hubs I've read so far by you and I know you know what I go through. I have rheumatoid arthritis, just diagnosed last year so my life is upside down and yes the support lacks because people either don't know what RA is (or compare it to osteoarthritis- very different though) or they think you're faking it, like you said. I am thinking about the possibility of a service dog. I think it would help me since I also have a 3 yr old too. My husband is ex military and has suffered PTSD. I will be reading more of your hubs.

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