A Home for David and I
Service, Emotional Support, and Service Dogs
This is the story of a double amputee and his ptst dog. The story is full of love. The introduction? Well, not so much. Understanding the love of a post traumatic stress (ptsd) dog requires understand trauma, Understanding my relationship with David requires understanding my trauma. I imagine the same is true of service and emotional support animals (ESA). For this story, it is important to define the different roles of these critters.
Service Animals – Due to the tremendous advertising efforts of a predatory business, opinion of what a service animal is and is not are often wrong. The ESA industry paints a picture of service animals as professionally trained and certified at great expense. The definition that matters is the the Americans with Disability Act. That law does not require professional training.
- ‘Dogs’ – I think miniature horses may have been added recently.
- ‘Any breed and any size of dog’
- ‘Trained [by anyone] to perform a task directly related to a person’s disability‘
What a service dog is not:
- ‘Required to be certified or go through a professional training program’
- ‘Required to wear a vest or other ID that indicates they’re a service dog’
- ‘Emotional support or comfort dogs, because providing emotional support or comfort is not a task related to a person’s disability’
Emotional Support Animals – ESA critters are a bit of a grey area. Unlike service animals, it seems they can be any critter that provides comfort. This is why they are also called comfort animals. They do not require training to perform specific tasks related to a handlers disability.
PTSD Animals – Various terms like PTSD Animals are ways of denoting specific reasons for a critter. A guide animal is a service animal for folk with vision challenges. A PTSD animal is an animal that helps with post traumatic stress disorder.
Dogs are medicine. They are particularly good with post traumatic stress (ptsd) patients. Although neither my ptsd nor leg loss were combat related, military service is a ptsd factory. With the expanding combat role of the US military, we can expect to see more and more veterans who benefit from K9 helpers. We owe it to them to make reasonable accommodations. If a man has a broken leg, would we deny him a crutch?
Service and companionship are what dogs were bred for. Bred from wolves (Canis lupus), what we call dogs are ‘Canis lupus familiaris’. Familiaris denotes the selective breeding / domestication which lends itself to be companionship. Dogs were bred for specific tasks like hunting, protection, and pest control.. But they were also bred to be our companions.
Ever wonder why a dog will eat almost everything you do? It is because dogs were bred in part to eat our food. Most cats will turn up a nose to potato chips. Most dogs will pounce potato chips. Of course there are some foods they do not do well with. Among the foods which are toxic to dogs.
- Cooked bones
- Corn on the cob
- Macadamia nuts
- Onion, chives, garlic, and like spices
Why do I require a service dog? First the obvious. I have no legs. In my wheel chair or on my prosthetics, bending over to retrieve dropped tools is crazy difficult. When in his harness, he also helps me up or back into my wheel chair. I have nerve damage in both hands. So I drop things a lot.
Why do I require a PTSD dog? When people hear about PTSD and see limb loss, combat comes to mind. I was not a combat vet. My PTSD is the result of extreme domestic violence and exploitation. I was beaten with lumber.
With eight books in print, a wife, daughter, and a boy on the way, I lost my mind. Officially, the injury was a moderate traumatic brain injury (tbi) by electrocution. My retail store was destroyed in the same event. Efforts to write were pointless at the time. Within a few months, side gigs dried up due to the shift in personalty. I became a complete asshole who was made utterly dependent on my wife.
I do not remember when Aimee was diagnosed schizophrenic. But by 2010 the symptoms were present with violence, substance abuse, and paranoia. Due to the nature of my disability, my Social Security disability (ssd) was paid to my second wife Aimee. She was my ‘representative payee’. After a domestic violence order (dvo) was issued against my wife Aimee, my mother became my representative payee. When social workers made it clear that a man with brain damage would not win custody, I had the dvo amended so my wife and I could reunite. I thought this was the safest option for my children. Frankly, in Kentucky, a man without disability seems unlikely to win custody.
When my mother passed, my wife assumed her identity. By pretending to be my mother, my wife began collecting my social security benefits. My medical care dwindled. Anything my wife deemed too expensive was off the table. This included the hyperbaric chamber that would have saved my legs. I begged friends for insulin, but only know so many diabetes to ask.
Posing as my late mother, my wife also collected my mother’s social security, my mother’s pension from the IRS, and my fathers pension which was paid to my mother. In all, my wife was fraudulently collecting about $4,000.00 a month. Wile not working, she collected about $48,000.00 / year. And yet, there was no money to save my legs or the $50.00 a month home equity loan.
After five years of not paying the home equity, my home and farm were foreclosed on. There was about $17,000.00 on the equity line against a home now likely worth over $250,000.00. Our home sold at auction for a pittance of what it was worth. We moved into a camper and lived in a camp ground.
While trying to pack and save my belongings, I had my first heart attacks. While hospitalized, my daughter told me of our animals fate. Our pig and various caged pets were left to die. I was horrified. But what was there to do? I was trapped, unable to walk in a nursing home. I could no longer drive or manage money. I wanted to die.
Aimee: What would you like for Christmas?
Like the previous five holiday seasons, I spent 2020 in a hospital bed. The legs did not come off easy or all at once. Each toe came off one at a time. Then the first third of each foot, the first half of each foot, each leg, and some redo surgery on the left leg. So a minimum of 17 separate amputations as well as a handful of surgeries that did not include amputation. This was over the course of five years. It was far more anesthesia than the mind or body should be subjected too. But, due to sepsis and septic shock, each surgery was a matter of life and death.
‘I would like a pet rat.’
I adore rats, but did not want any new pets for myself. They had given me a 50% chance of surviving the following three years. I was stuck in a skilled nursing rehab. I still had legs at the time, but was mostly wheel chair bound. I was recovering from sepsis, amputation, and heart attacks. A new pet seemed likely to be abused and abandoned once I was unable to take care of it. But I needed something to fight back my son’s depression. Somehow, my wife had turned into an violent abusive monster.
Previously, Thanos was my son’s pet rat. He loved that critter. Thanos loved him too. Thanos often rode on my son’s shoulder. We both fed the wee thing by hand. Thanos likely died of dehydration for being abandoned in a cage. That left my son with Little T. Dog. His dog would not last long.
At first the dog’s elbow looked skinned. It later festered without care. Aimee said it was cancer and claimed there was nothing to do. Really? When her cat needed it, her cat saw a vet, had a leg off, and was completely functional. I function without legs. Why not my son’s dog? After months of rotting, My son’s dog died in his arms. He was barely a teen and alone when his dog passed in his arms. Even today, to think on what my son was put threw brings me to tears. My daughter wasn’t spared, but her torture took a different form.
Aimee – ‘We live in a camper. There is no room for a new pet.’
To my surprise, Aimee brought me a puppy. You know, because a shepherd mix takes up less space than a rat.