Elmo, The Amazing Service Dog

Service dogs are amazing. They can be trained to do so many different things - including opening doors, picking things up from the ground, and taking clothes out of the washer and dryer to name a few things. There's no wonder the wait list to get a service dog hovers around a year, and even longer, for some organizations. That's why I was so excited to finally get a service dog.

I was paired with Elmo. The trainers and I thought he'd be a perfect fit for me. We started a two-week boot camp to teach me the commands and to get Elmo used to working with me. Things were going great the first week. It hadn't hit me that Elmo was my dog until I brought him home the weekend before the second week of training. Having him home made me realize how much work a dog can be - let alone a service dog. I thought I could handle taking care of a dog, but actually having one made me see that I couldn't.

Service dogs require more work than a normal dog. On top of feeding them, taking them out to the bathroom, grooming them and exercising, you need to continually work to keep their skills up to par. I’d make the comparison that a service dog is like a professional athlete and a normal dog is an amateur athlete. One takes more commitment.

I was at a stage in my life/injury where I was still trying to figure out how to take care of myself and throwing a dog in the mix made everything that much harder. I decided to give Elmo back to the organization. It was one of the toughest decisions I've ever made but I know he'll be a great service dog for someone else. If you're considering getting a service dog make sure you weigh the pros and cons. Having a service dog requires a lot of time and effort but it can be worth it for some.

Josh

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