The Strong Bond of Deborah and Champ

Jan 10,2023

My childhood was fraught with incredibly difficult problems I was repeatedly raped at a young age, sexually assaulted, abused, beaten up, and bullied at school. My family was highly dysfunctional, suffering from mental illness to this day. Mental problems haunt our family and create painfully difficult situations to try to slog my way through. My faith was my main strength. Animals were always important to my recovery from traumatic events.

Later in life, after we lost our home to fire and my husband’s brain cancer worsened until finally, he passed away. With the death of my wonderful husband, living was too difficult and I lost my will to live. My daughter, my son-in-law, and my grandchildren were a reason to stay alive but we were far apart due to COVID. Still, I had my dearly loved cat Felix to sustain me and motivate me to get out of bed. He was my family. A year and a half after my husband passed I took my emotional support cat to the vet’s groomer. There, he unexpectedly had a massive heart attack at the vet's office right before my eyes.

At this time I needed a service dog to help me with a lifetime of trauma that was becoming even more urgent and difficult to live with. With a very high level of anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress syndrome I needed to find a service dog right away. I didn’t have four years and $16,000 or more to pay for a service dog. So I knew I would have to train my own dog.

A crazy miracle happened and I found a service dog school international. I needed my service dog, and I knew I would have to pull myself together enough to train him. What better way to bond than to train your own dog? The task was difficult, and I had to organize myself enough to be his trainer. But I loved him so much that I dedicated myself to the task. Champ made it fun with his happy-go-lucky attitude in life and his playfulness, his surprising intellect, and above all his willingness to be obedient and to connect with me on such a deep emotional level.

With the invaluable help of the trainer, Dani, and ServiceDog Training School I was empowered to dedicate myself to champ three times a day. We worked every day from when Champ was three months old. He completed his training at the age of one year. He’s been instrumental in helping me slowly, but surely find my way out of the depression and anxiety I lived with. His antics make me laugh. His interventions and care for me help me realize that he and I will be together until one of us passes. His constant presence is reassuring and helps me overcome His tasks for me to keep me grounded and bring me back to the present day when I have flashbacks. Champ helps me to get out of bed in the morning. After all, he needs to go outside. Plus, Champ is a great traveler. He goes under the seat for six or more hours. He holds his pee too until the time is right.  I’m so grateful to service dog international and to Champ.