Thursday, October 27, 2016

The Anatomy of an Emotional Support Animal (ESA)

"On Our Walk"
(C) Allen Pearson, All Rights Reserved
Dogs are an incredible part of our universe. When I am walking my dog, it seems we have a bond or a connection that we understand while we spend time together exercising. As we go through our routine, he is sniffing his way down the trails, taking in nature, and keeping track of me.

Though I do not always know it, he is watching me, he is paying attention to me. All the while I am keeping tracking of him, what’s going on with him, anything I need to pay attention to and thinking about a few things I need to get done. We love having each other close by. Our bond began several years ago when I adopted him from a local dog rescue. Our bond grew incredibly over the years to where he’s an important part of our family.

Noah isn’t my first dog, I am blessed to have had dogs most of my life. I enjoyed the days of being a “boy and his dog” growing up with a dog which had been abused yet taught us how to love and trust as she came out of her shell and became a huge part of everything we did. When I went off to college, my dog missed me and I missed her.

Over the years of living with dogs, I’ve learned how quickly they become part of the family and helping in various ways. Many dogs are happiest when they have a job or challenge to do, not just being the family dog or the guard dog. If you notice, many dogs like to be in the action with children as it’s their way of protecting and keeping an eye on what’s happening.

As my dog and I have traveled this journey of life, I’ve learned he is keenly aware of the emotions I exhibit. As an example, a few years ago now, I remember coming home from work stressed out to the max and tired. After chatting with my wife and before dinner, I laid down on the couch to watch a little television. My dog climbed up on the couch next to me and insisted I pet him.

As I lay there petting him, within 5 minutes, I noticed the stress literally melting away from me. It was leaving me and I was feeling better. I have always had stressful jobs, but had never experienced anything like this.

A new door of interest in dogs was opening- how can a dog help someone with stress or other issues? What else can I learn from the experience?

Searching the internet, I discovered “Emotional Support Animals.” These animals help their owners who have diagnosed emotional or mental disabilities. While one of the newest treatments in psychology, the Emotional Support Animal, the trend is growing fast.

The Emotional Support Animal isn’t a Service Dog. While the Service Dog is trained to work assisting the person completing specific tasks, the Emotional Support Animal isn’t trained to do a task. The animal is usually a support by being itself, a dog or a cat or a hedgehog, whatever animal is able to accomplish the task of emotional support.
"De-Stressing My Human!"
(C) Allen Pearson, All Rights Reserved

An interesting fact with the Emotional Support Animal is that it isn’t permitted nor does it go everywhere with the person. Current laws are not necessarily supportive of the idea for the animal to go as a Service Dog would.

At present, the Emotional Support Animal is supported by the Housing and Urban Development Act which states the animals must be permitted regardless of the “no-pet” policy wherever the person resides provided documentation is met. Further, Emotional Support Animals might be permitted to travel with their people in the passenger section of airlines provided documentation is provided, consultation with the air carrier and requirements are met.

If you have been diagnosed with an emotional or mental disability, an Emotional Support Animal could be the prescription for you. Certapet- can assist you with certifying your pet. Take their online test, the test is evaluated, the results will determine your need for an Emotional Support Animal. If a need is determined, you will be sent to a medical specialist to pursue a letter to accommodate the animal.

About the Author!

Allen Pearson is a Dog Photographer and Writer. Allen and his dog are often found exploring the universe and writing about their adventures at from The Dog’s Paw! Allen enjoys photographing dogs for rescue organizations to help them find “Forever Homes!”

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