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Ashby works with Mahoney during the school day and takes him to the tennis court to play with him either during passing period or lunch time. Ashby said, “Ever since getting Mahoney, he has made a mental positive impact on me and he has also made me more active.”

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Constant Companion

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There are many people in this world who are in need of a service dog. It might be for emotional support or for disabilities. US History teacher Brad Ashby got a mobility service dog due to his disability.

Ever since he got his service dog Mahoney, a black lab retriever mix, his life has become much easier. Ashby said, “I got a service dog for mobility, to help relieve the pain from my shoulders and also as a companion.” Having a service dog will make your lifestyle very easy, but there are some things to have in mind when getting a service dog.  It is important to make sure you picked the right program and have a lot of patience since it is a long process. Ashby said, “Depending on the program you pick the process might be different and in some programs you’ll have to pay to get a service dog.”

There are many benefits to having a service dog, but it also depends on the service dog you are assigned. Each service dog has different tasks depending on what your service dog is trained for. For example, Mahoney is a mobility service dog, some of his tasks are to pick things up the floor, open doors, turn off lights, help with doing laundry, and if Ashby ever has an accident he can take the phone to him to call for help. When he’s at work, Ashby takes Mahoney out during lunch and passing periods to play, go on little walks around campus and to go to the restroom. Ashby said, “Ever since getting Mahoney, he has made a mental positive impact on me and he has also made me more active.”

Choosing the right program is very important when getting a service dog. It can take up to two years and maybe even longer depending on the age of the dog, how quick it learns, possible health problems, behavior issues, and many other things.  There are some programs that do charge, but there are also other programs that are free, such as Canine Companions for Independence, which is the program Ashby chose to get Mahoney from. For Ashby, the process for him to get a service dog was about a two year wait. Then he had to go to  training for two weeks everyday for eight hours. When it comes for the training, they are training the person more than the dog since they need to learn how to deal and bond with the dog. Ashby said, “The training is very intense and long, they were training me more on how to deal and bond with the dog.”

Having a service dog does catch a lot of people’s attention and a lot of questions might be asked like “Can I pet your dog?” or “What does he do for you?” Ashby said, “When I get asked if they could pet him I always have to say no since he is a working for me and it could easily distract him.” When Ashby first brought Mahoney home his kids loved him, but they were getting a little frustrated since they couldn’t play with him due to him having to bond with Ashby first and then he would be able to bond with other people. Once Ashby brought Mahoney to school the reactions were pretty good from both the staff and students, but the only issue was when in some of his classes there were a couple of students who are scared of dogs. With the issue of students being scared he had to have a talk with them and teach them a couple things about service dogs and their purpose.

When he’s not at school, Ashby had to adjust to going places with Mahoney. Most places do allow people with service dogs, but there are some restaurants that don’t let you go in with the service dog. A lot of people abuse the ability to get a service dog just to get into places easier and get special treatment. They can easily purchase a vest online. Not every dog in the programs makes it to be a service dog, only about 50% of the dogs graduate to be a working dog. If you are ever thinking of getting a service dog, but never owned a dog, make sure you are capable of taking care of it since it is a lot of work. Ashby said, “I’ve had dogs before so I know how to properly take care of them, but for people who have never had dogs before, but need a service dog it’s a lot of work and it’ll take a lot of patience.”

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Constant Companion