Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Life With My Akita Service Dog Coco

The other day Coco and I were waiting in line and she was leaning into me, creating a little buffer zone on the back of my legs. She does this on my sides or in front of me to make sure that I have room to walk and to give me stability if I'm dizzy. A man said, "That's amazing. She's really got your back." And I said, "Yes, at all times."

And I got to thinking about how life used to be. After the crash I was terrified of everything. Going out. Staying in. Going to sleep. Protecting my family and not being able to do enough. Feeling unsafe in the car, in the house, outside, around people, alone. When we got our first Akita that started to change. My second Akita also made me feel safe and secure. But I knew I was going to need to go on the list for a service dog and would probably not be able to have an Akita any more.

And then an Akita breeder donated Coco to me to be my service dog. And with the help of several trainers her first year of socializing and obedience training went great. And thanks to a neighbor of my sister, we got into a service dog training school. I knew there was a chance I couldn't continue to isolate myself because I had this book being published and would need to do book signings and gallery exhibits of my artwork and to do those things, I had to leave my house and be in situations I couldn't anticipate or control. Coco has taken care of me so beautifully. And she has become an ambassador for the Akita. She is gentle and sweet and has amazing impulse control and she does what Akitas do best, she figures things out all on her own and helps me everyday.

I just want to write that with Coco I can sleep at night. I can walk outside and function okay. Its not like it was before the Traumatic Brain Injury or PTSD but its as good as it gets and that is pretty good these days. This is my girl and me out and about. And that face, I get to look at that face everyday. I am so grateful.

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