The Life of Having a Service Animal

Service animals  are animals, most of the time dogs, and sometimes cats, who are trained to detect issues with their owners, such as seizures, panic attacks, passing out, high heart rate, and a bunch of other things. Service animals go through a lot of training to ensure they have the skills to detect what they need to. Not only are service dogs trained by trainers but also their owners. Service animals and their owners have to have a special bond for trust to start and things to work out. 


Without trust the owner cannot guarantee that they are safe and the same thing goes for the animal. Service animals are given a privilege that other animals don’t have, service animals are allowed in stores, buildings, and schools to help provide medical service to their owner. Service animals can not be given to just anyone though. The individual has to be inspected by a medical professional to see if they are eligible to have a service animal. Then comes the paperwork and the picking out the animal, like picking the type of animal, then the breed. Then after picking the animal comes all the training, building trust, relationship, then teaching the animal to understand the signals of a medical emergency and how to handle them. 


I  got the chance to interview a student at GWHS who has a service animal, and is very aware of the procedures of having a service animal. Her name is Breigh Barnes, she is a freshman at GWHS and has a service dog named Ziva.


Ziva, a service dog. (Photograph courtesy of interview subject.)

Question: What kind of animal do you have?

Answer: “A Doberman”


Question: Boy or girl?

Answer: “She’s a girl”


Question: How old is Ziva?

Answer: “A year and a half old”


Question: Did Ziva go through any training?

Answer: “Yes, she went through training for anxiety and basic training.”


Question:How long have you had Ziva?

Answer: “We’ve had her for 5 months.”


Question: In your opinion, what is the purpose of having a service animal?

Answer: “ Well I feel it depends on what you have the service dog for, like if you have seizures then maybe your dog is there to find help when you have one, to keep you safe or if you have anxiety the dog is there to help you calm down it’s like having someone you know who can help what your going through. “


Question: How long does the training for a service animal take place?

Answer: “ It usually depends on the training you’re doing and how quick or slow it takes for the dog to understand and learn.”


Question: On a scale to 1- 10 how much trust do you have in Ziva?

Answer:” 9, I trust her enough to know she would help if I was having an anxiety attack but she also is still a bit of a puppy so if she’s at home playing she isn’t on high alert but im out with her and she has her vest on and her correction collar she knows she needs to be on high alert.” 


Question: What is the downside of having a service animal?

Answer: “Well you have to put into consideration they are still dogs with instincts so sometimes service dogs aren’t always that reliable and some trainers aren’t the best so you have to be patient with them and training can cost a lot too.”


Question: What is it like having a service animal?

Answer: “It’s pretty nice you have an animal that you know you can trust and love and feel safe with.”