Emotional Support Animals

I saw someone mentioned having a dog as an emotional support animal. I believe my son would greatly benefit with one in the future. How does one go about getting an emotional support dog?

There are dogs that are service dogs, yes there are psychiatric service dogs. I myself never bothered with getting a formally “trained” service dog. Dogs are naturally affectionate and willing to please. Any sound dog would do just fine as a companion or pet for someone suffering with a mental illness. Certain breeds are more affectionate than others - Intelligence and affection level are 2 important factors when deciding on a companion dog. Labs, Golden Retrievers, German Shepherds, Boxers have traditionally made excellent service dogs - Good luck with whatever you decide to do - smaller dogs and mixed breeds also make great companions

Hi valleypenne,

We have two boxers (both rescues) and my son dearly loves them. He talks to them more than us most of the time:) He likes to take them on walks too.

There are a lot of pluses to owning a dog.

I would recommend figuring out the breed you are interested in, then submit an application to your local rescue that rescues that particular breed. Most major cities have rescues specific for popular breeds, and have pictures and descriptions on their websites. They will set up meet & greet for as many of the dogs you would like to meet. Most rescues take care of any health issues the dog has before it’s adopted (neuter, spay, heartworms, etc.).

My husband and I foster boxers for Atlanta Boxer Rescue so I’m very familiar with the rescue process. You would be surprised at the wonderful, sweet dogs that are just dumped on the street.

@Wave gave some good examples of breeds. I love all dogs, but I am partial to boxers - they are silly, sweet and goofy clowns and typically like to be active. Goldens are sweethearts and usually very calm. German Shepherds are awesome, loyal, smart, although I think they can have a pretty strong prey instinct (I was attacked by one as a child and one attacked our dog a few years back). If you look at a lab, I would make sure it is an English Lab as opposed to the American Lab. The English Lab has a bigger blockier head and is typically calmer than the American.

I think any sweet, loyal dog would be a great emotional support for your son. :dog:

Thanks! We have 3 cats right now, and a rat terrier, but he is a senior citizen. My son loves them all, and will lavish attention on them - as you said, more on them than on us people!

I went and did a little reading on-line. I guess one can actually get a psychiatrist to ‘prescribe’ an emotional support animal, which gives one more power to possibly keep a pet in a no-pet apartment, or be able to travel with the animal. But I guess there is no specific training for an emotional support animal, as opposed to a service animal, so there is no real certification for them (plenty of on-line scams it seems tho!).

Oh ok, the “prescription” sounds like a good idea. Bringing a dog into the cat mix can be dicey too. We have had some boxers who are fine with cats and some who want to eat them for lunch!

My rattie used to act aggressive toward cats - until I got a Siamese. She was completely unimpressed by him, which stopped him in his tracks! And then the other cats followed her lead, and we now happily live in a cat-and-dog household.

Definitely go rescue. I had one cat who was a rescue but was nuts (he ran away) and another that is just a little love bug. (Grey Baby [the love bug] wasn’t exactly a rescue rescue. We got her from a vet tech who wasn’t smart enough to neuter her cat. I still think of her as a rescue though because she was the runt of the little and none of the other kittens let her through to the food and she had to eat poop to survive. We know this because it wasn’t until we gave her the calorie supplement [we had to use a syringe because she wouldn’t touch it at first] for a while and then put that on actual food that she stopped trying to eat her own poop. It was really sad.)
I feel like if you rescue an adult shelter pet they understand and appreciate it even more than baby shelter animals.
I would see if you can bring the dog to visit your house for a trial to make sure that he/she doesn’t freak out when confronted with the other animals.

My cat is always happy to see me when I get home from work. He looks directly at me and gives a big ‘meow’. A purring cat is very satisfying.

I think my son actually would prefer a cat to a dog, however a dog can be helpful in social situations, and he is also diagnosed with Asperger.

Both dogs and cars are good emotional animals. Some cats will nuzzle and cuddle almost too much… and even some dogs.

This kitten thought he could turn the stone frog into a princess kitty by kissing it…LOL