For the past year and a half, I have been looking into getting a service dog for my anxiety and depression. Sometimes I go into these panic attacks that I never remember. It’s like these big blocks of time in my life that are missing. I would remember beginning to feel anxious and the next thing I remember is being in a different place (usually curled into a ball on the floor) with a stinging, puffy, dry feeling on my face and a migraine. It killed me that I couldn’t remember any of it and the people around me looked at me, terrified.
These attacks aren’t only hard on me. I know that in the beginning they were extremely hard on my mom. It always happened when she wasn’t around because I never feel anxious with her around. She would get calls in the middle of these attacks, sometimes after, and there wasn’t anything she could do through the phone. And it’s always very hard on my boyfriend, Bryan. At the beginning of our relationship, he didn’t have a clue what to do to help me through it. Now he has found many ways of helping me in our two years together and he even knows my triggers and helps me avoid them.
I started looking into getting a service dog that could warn me when a panic attack was coming on and could help me through it. I read for months all that needed to happen before getting one and the process of getting one. I looked at specific companies that focused on helping people with more emotional disabilities. I found one company that I did really like and the fee wasn’t too horrible. I filled out the very extensive application and got a signature from my doctor, but the money to send the application was hard to find. Money has always been hard for me and my family and at the time, I had just started college so I also had to worry about those fees. After months of battling with myself and money, I started looking for other options.
Not long after that, I found something better suited for my needs: an Emotional Support Animal (ESA). So I started looking at places to supply me with a cat or dog. With the research I did, I found that most, if not all ESAs are not trained. They are chosen for specific qualities they have. Then I thought to myself, “Why don’t I adopt a dog or cat that has the qualities that are good for me?” And I found a site that could supply me with certification for whatever animal I chose for only $35! (Much better than the $100 I was going to pay just to turn in an application!)
Bryan and I had recently moved in together when I was looking into all of this, so I talked to him and asked if he would be ok with a dog or cat. We talked about it for several weeks before coming to the conclusion of finding a cat. That’s when we started going to our local animal shelter. I found one cat in particular, his name was D.O.G. (we never found out what it stood for). He had recently had to have his tail amputated because of an infection. It felt like everyone was just passing by him because of this (he also looked super grumpy all the time), but he was the sweetest thing. I felt like we needed each other. But then financial struggles kicked me in the butt once more. Of course I didn’t have enough money at the time to adopt him. The saddest part was that I was right there when someone decided to adopt him and take him away from me. Yes, I was happy that he wasn’t behind those bars anymore and that he would have constant cuddles, but he was supposed to be mine. So after that, I was really depressed and told Bryan that I couldn’t handle going to the shelter anymore. Little did I know, God had major plans for me.
Not even a week later, I got a message from a friend asking me if I was still looking for a cat. She started telling me all about this cat that her mom had rescued and was fostering. She said she was completely free and they would even give us everything she needed, like food and a litter box and even a cat tree! She told me that the cat was very sweet, got along with the two dogs and another cat in the house, loved to lay in people’s laps, and never used her claws while playing. I was beyond happy and knew things were looking up for me. We decided to name her Felicity.
I had to wait for two weeks after that text to get her. This past Thursday, I went online and paid the $35 to get her certified. I knew she was going to be the perfect ESA. From what my friend had told me, she had all of the qualities I was looking for in an ESA.
The following day, they brought her to our apartment. She was very nervous at first and hid under the bed, soon after they left her with us and things calmed down, she came out from under the bed and wanted to be pet. It’s now Wednesday and she follows me around the apartment and lays in my lap all day. When she sees that I’ve left the room without her noticing, she runs around to find me. She is the sweetest thing and I’m so so so happy to have her by my side.
I wanted to share my story for those who need help finding a companion and are struggling to get one financially. It was so fast and easy for me to get the certificate. I printed it out immediately after I got it and I could even print out several copies to keep in different places (I plan to frame one). If you are looking for a great place to certify your animal, here’s the link: https://www.esaregistration.org/