One of the best days of my life was when my family and I brought home my dog, Andre. The second my eyes fell on him, I melted into a puddle, overwhelmed by his cuteness. He was the most adorable ball of fluff and I couldn’t fathom that he was mine.
I had just recently been diagnosed with mitochondrial myopathy and I was no longer able to travel long distances. As a result, my family’s time was spent mostly at home, so getting a dog made perfect sense.
After much research to find a suitable breed that fit our lifestyle, my mom came across one called a Havanese (Andre’s breed). This breed originates from Cuba, descendants of the bichon frisé. Because they aren’t overbred, they are not known for having many health problems. Havanese are categorized among the toy dogs, which means they are smaller in stature. Compared to dogs of similar size, Havanese bones are thicker and not as brittle, decreasing risk of arthritis. Another upside to this dog is that they are hypoallergenic because they do not shed. This makes them a good fit for people like me who suffer from allergies.
The Havanese breed met all of our needs. It wouldn’t be long before I had a companion to keep me company and sit on my lap as I drove my wheelchair. Soon after bringing our new family member home, we realized that him sitting on my lap wouldn’t last long. Before we knew it, our 8-pound puppy exceeded the weight limit for his breed. People began thinking that we named him after Andre the Giant instead of Andre the Seal.
Fast-forward 12 years and he is still my puppy. Maybe less fluffy and mischievous and a bit more reminiscent of an old man, but still my puppy. As he gets older, I ponder getting a service dog next. In his earlier years, I always pushed aside the idea. I wanted him to receive all the attention that I had to give. These days, with my mom’s added deterioration due to Mito, having a mobility assistance dog sounds more appealing every day. It would certainly save my mom a lot of energy to have help loading the laundry or picking things up off the floor. The only downfall is that mobility assistance dogs do not come cheaply.
There are many factors that affect the overall expense of training a service dog: how much training is necessary, what tasks you want your dog to perform, and much more. Prices range from $5,000 all the way to $30,000.
For now, I remain with only one dog in my house. I am not at all disappointed by this. Although sometimes annoying, hearing the little noises Andre makes fills my heart. He brings laughter into my life that otherwise would not be there.
What are your thoughts on service dogs? Do you own one?
Note: Muscular Dystrophy News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Muscular Dystrophy News or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to muscular dystrophy.