Keegan is working (in public) again.

This post eventually turns into a rant, be warned. 😛

I’ve never talked about this I don’t think so most of you probably don’t know.

Keegan was trained as a service dog. She was trained in the traditional “service dog” skills as well as the specific personal skills she does for me.
The traditional skills that most people associate with service dogs like picking things up, handing me items that I ask for, turning lights on and off, but also alerting skills.
Alerting skills are things like telling me when the buzzer on the stove is going off, telling me when the doorbell rings, traditional skills a “hearing dog” would do.
Things that she does for me are more PTSD aligned. She tells me how close people are to me, if someone is talking at me, if someone is headed my way versus just passing by. She also keeps me grounded in this “reality”. When I get to stressed I tend to disassociate and go “elsewhere”. For some reason, if I’m touching Keegan, even just having my hand lay on her head, I can stay connected to the situation I’m in, though it’s uncomfortable and extremely draining.

For me, it doesn’t take much for me to go away. Standing in a line with a bunch of people will do it. Or I’ll start doing the 360 awareness thing, where my vision is tunneled but 360 at the same time, I don’t know how to describe it. I no longer see the reason I’m in the line or the specific people in the line, I’m seeing everything in the area, full on data dump.
Driving in traffic will do it.
Walking through a crowded grocery store will do it.
Sitting in a classroom will do it.

The past couple weeks have been tough, lots of big issues for me, lots of government agencies to deal with and the accompanying language miscommunication that stresses me out so badly, school starting next week, and the chronic pain in both of my hands.

It has gotten difficult enough that I’ve pulled Keegan out of her old age retirement and started taking her with me again.
She has a service dog cape but it seems that most people in Texas have no idea what that means. People actively try and get her to come over to them, clicking their fingers and tongues, calling “here doggy”, despite the fact that she’s on a very short leash (a tag) and wearing a service dog cape.
People also apparently don’t know that it’s rude, not to mention illegal, to demand to know why she does for me and why. I’m all for education when I’m not using all my energy to stay connected with the agreed on version of reality but if I’m uncommunicative then leave me the hell alone, I’m not going to tell you my history or why I need a service dog. I don’t want your suspicions, your eagerness, your jealousy, your nosiness, your condolences, your accolades, or your pity.
(that was the primary rant, that preceding paragraph, just I case you missed it 🙂 )

Keegan also works at night, though you may not think of it as work. I have a lot of flashbacks, and a lot of nightmares. Keegan knows when to be beside me. Touching her can pull me back out of a nightmare. Touching her can force me back into the present after a flashback, giving me proof that I’m here and not there.

People out there see a pet, albeit a very well trained and well mannered one. For me she’s the touch stone that keeps me sane and present in the “real” world.

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  1. Anonymous

     /  January 12, 2012

    Really glad you have her. I learned something.


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