The Benefits of Having a Service Dog

I have a German Shepherd service dog that I’ve had since she was eight weeks old. She is now at least five years old and we have an unbreakable bond. Living with narcolepsy is made a bit easier when doing it with a service dog at my side.

My service dog is my best friend

Narcolepsy service dogs can be trained to perform a variety of tasks. These tasks include can include anything from medication retrieval to providing physical support to their handler during cataplexy episodes. Narcolepsy service dogs can also serve as a physical deterrent for strangers while the person with narcolepsy is having a “sleep attack” or napping in public.

I was unable to get a fully-trained service dog due to the huge financial investment that it requires. However, I was able to train my service dog myself with the help of multiple trainers. It took longer than a typical service dog program and required more hands-on work, but it was worth it in the end.

My service dog is more than a narcolepsy service dog for me. She is my best friend, confidant, and is always ready for an adventure.

She is very good at helping me

One of her most useful tasks is that she is trained to interrupt me from picking at my skin. My skin-picking got so bad when my narcolepsy onset, mostly because it became an automatic behavior that I experience during sleep attacks. Before I had my service dog to help interrupt my skin picking, I constantly had open sores on my skin and was unable to stop on my own. Now I rarely pick my skin – and when I do, my service dog jumps on me and makes me stop! I’d never been able to stop completely without her. She is really good at her job.

My service dog is also trained to fetch my medications. Sometimes I am unable to get out of bed to get my medications in the mornings. Sometimes at night I am so exhausted that I keep forgetting to take my nighttime medication – I’ll start looking around for my medication and then get sidetracked by something else. This is thanks to the brain fog and confusion that comes along with extreme tiredness.

With a service dog that is trained to fetch medication, I don’t often forget to take my medicine anymore. As soon as I look at her and say, “Go get medicine,” she grabs it for me, along with a cute doggy smile and a tail wag!

I feel less isolated with her around

My service dog also provides companionship. As a person with narcolepsy, I can feel isolated. I personally do not have the typical family support that some people do. This makes life with narcolepsy harder in many ways. Without constant social or physical support from others, I am at a disadvantage.

Having a service dog helps me feel safe while living independently. My service dog is my family and home, all wrapped up in one.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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