Let’s talk Service Animal vs. Emotional Support Animal
So let’s just get this out in the open. I am a huge fan of having your intuitive healing animal support you. As many of you know, #CoralineClover has been very helpful in the office, providing a healing loving environment. I kind of did the opposite of what people do for training a service dog. Because Coraline does so much work in the office, I wanted people to not bother her on her time off. She is just so damn cute that it makes it hard for people to not want to touch her. But that service dog vest is magical and lets people know to back off. I highly recommend a “Service Animal in Training” for your beginning days or when retraining is happening. That word training buys you a ton of grace. When Coraline and I started traveling again post covid shut down, we busted out that training vest so people would give us a wide berth and not give me the side eye if she acted out of line.
In the beginning of this journey, I had no idea that I NEEDED Coraline on our time off. I tripped, nearly eating it face first, while taking her for a morning burn the puppy energy off, walk. I yelped and got scared. She instantly jumped on my leg and made me sit down and “be” with her to settle my heart. Holy WOW!
We started her initial training at 15 weeks and she graduated in less than a week at service dog school because she did so well. She passed her test with flying colors. She was still a puppy, so we had to navigate that energy and I needed to learn how to be consistent in my asks of her. It’s a pretty big process. It’s 24-7, I swear. But the energy and space of working in the office changed with her there.
My original plan was to just train her to be an emotional support animal/dog (ESA), but I found ESA’s aren’t given the same rights as a service animals. Well, it’s because they are not required to have the training, pass a test, and be nationally registered. That was the deal sealer for me. I WANT Coraline to be well-trained. I want her to be on her best behavior so my life is easier with her. In doing this research on the two rights I now know that an ESA is sort of optionally protected (housing is really the only required allowance – and they can question the hell out of you). A service dog is protected by national and Texas Laws. A service dog CANNOT be rejected or told to leave unless it is acting out or not “working” with its handler. That kind of dog needs to leave anyway. It’s having a bad day. It needs to go home and regroup and rest or something. Not “working” as trained, booted.
I took Coraline to K9 Kommand where Terry was a dream and helpful as hell. He was not judgmental in the fact that I apparently let Coraline boss me around (which I found difficult to hear since I read about 20 books on training before I got her – in hindsight, I just needed the potty training book and then get her with Terry at 15 weeks). Terry is no longer practicing, so we have moved over to working with Paul at Give Us Paws.
So if you are reading this and wondering, should I get my dog trained better? The answer is always yes. If you want an ESA or Service animal, I recommend doing some training based on your needs (ESA – manners training / Service Animal – intensive training). It has made a huge difference in my and Coraline’s relationship and I know without a doubt she is a great service animal due to my level of commitment and training from the jump.
We do psychological assessments in this practice for those needing professional documentation for a service animal.