Beau is a Border Collie – American Pit Bull Terrier mix. I say this fairly confidently but in all honesty we have never had him genetically tested so he could be a Standard Poodle – Labrador mix for all we know. I’m saying this because in reality it doesn’t matter but it is the number one question we get asked.
Did you know any breed and any size dog can be a service animal? Also the only animals qualified to be service animals according to the ADA are miniature horses and dogs! Can you imagine, a miniature horse as a service animal? I can, those animals are very smart and seriously some Great Danes are just as big. More fun facts about service animals are that they don’t have to registered, certified or licensed to be a service animal and lots of service animals are owner-trained. Beau is an owner-trained service dog but I do have a behaviorist and a service dog trainer I work with to properly train Beau. All the training takes a lot of time, dedication and consistent practice. One last fun fact about service animals, they do not have to be vested or identified in any way when out in public. We call it “working naked”. I rarely work Beau naked because I don’t like the reaction from others when I am in public with him. I do change him into a red bandana that states he’s a service dog when it gets hot here (we are in Texas where it get’s crazy hot) but if he’s not in the bandana, he is in his service dog vest. It also helps him to realize when he is “on”. Many people comment on how “calm” he is when we are out but when he is off and at home, he is a nut and full of crazy energy.
I got Beau back in January and initially he was my Emotional Support Animal (ESA). He would go with me to places I had called and gained permission from as required. (ESAs don’t have public access rights like service dogs so they can’t go places like the grocery store or restaurants even if the establishment gives permission because of the health department regulations.) I specifically adopted Beau for an ESA in January on the urging of my therapist but we quickly realized I would need him as a service dog instead. This began a process of discussion with a service dog trainer that evaluated Beau to make sure he would make a good service dog since they must have a certain temperament and desire to do the work required of them. The trainer was very impressed by Beau and stated he was a great fit but wanted him to work on his public access test skills in order to be ready for the job. We spent several weeks on this and he did great right from the beginning. He had to be able to resist sniffing at the grocery store, ignore other service dog teams as to not distract them and ignore food dropped on the floor at restaurants just to name a few of the skills. He mastered it all within a few weeks and we got the go ahead from our trainer. He was put into service by March which I will tell you is VERY quick for a service dog. It usually takes two years to get to this level even for the best dogs but it is my understanding that Beau had a degree of training before I adopted him. I don’t know the full story but he was being considered to be a service dog for Veterans suffering from PTSD and would have been sent to a professional program if we hadn’t crossed paths when we did and I am so thankful we did!
Beau is two years old and loves to play fetch. It is his absolute favorite but only with a tennis ball and if he can have a kiddie pool full of water or the river to swim in when he gets tired, all the better! He has two other sister dogs at home that he loves dearly and two kitties siblings he likes to play chase with if they will let him. He is the sweetest boy you will ever meet but he will most likely ignore you if you try to call him or pet him because he’s a service dog first and a pet second. If you are at our home, he is all over you and you will likely have to shove him out of your lap but out and about, he ignores pretty much everyone, as he should.
Beau helps me by allowing me to go out into public and by not having to fear I will succumb to a panic attack with no help. He is trained to first apply deep pressure across my body to make sure I don’t disassociate with the situation and hopefully realize I am okay and safe but then he is also trained to find the nearest door and help me get out of the situation causing the issue. He is also trained to keep people out of my space so for instance if I am in line at the grocery store he will identify the people around me and either block or cover me depending on what he knows makes me the most comfortable. For sure if there is a man behind me he will stand behind me at a distance to keep him from approaching and the same for the front, if he feels the person making me uncomfortable is in the front. If a person I am not expecting or very familiar with comes up to shake my hand or hug me (I hate hugging random people, it feels very unsafe to me) Beau will quickly step between us so they can’t get too close. It is amazing to see him in action!
I went from being a recluse in my home, not wanting to leave to do basic things like get food for my family, to a person who can confidently go to the store, travel to new places and go out with friends for drinks because of my sweet Beau. I am a truer and better version of myself because of him and I am blessed to be a service dog team with him.
If you have more questions about service animals or Beau in particular please comment below or message me.