By Halie Owens | Echo
Interests of many have been piqued after seeing the new Taylor freshman with the service dog. Her name is Chelsea Carter, and her service dog, Bronx, is a medical alert dog. While many may be used to seeing service dogs aid the blind and disabled, Carter suffers from invisible illness: chronic migraines and panic disorder.
"His job is to let me know before my symptoms kick in," Carter said. Bronx was trained to detect stress hormones and physical cues so he can warn Carter to remove herself from a stressful environment.
Still, Bronx is not perfect. Though he has done an exceptional job recently, he has learned a lot over the past several months. Bronx was adopted from the Indianapolis Animal Care and Control Services Center last November, and Carter trained him herself since February.
"Within the past two weeks, he has made my life easier," Carter said. "He's functioning like an actual service dog. I thought he was dumber than a box of rocks for a long time, but I knew he would get it eventually."
"I'm very proud of him," Carter said. "As far as the panic, I still experience episodes, (but) it's relieving to know I don't have to go through it alone."
Carter's story is not the average one; in a typical scenario, one would wait at least two years to be matched with a service dog, or pay $20,000-$30,000 out of pocket. Carter didn't want to wait two years to be matched to a dog and didn't have the money.
Bronx was not her first service dog. Medical Mutts, a company in Indianapolis, trained Carter to train a female German shepherd named Cena. Unfortunately, Cena was attacked and gained behavioral issues that led her to be ineffective at her job. Carter tried rehabilitating her for 10 months but eventually a dog trainer recommended she get another dog.
It takes two full years to train a service dog. Carter quotes the famous truism, "Patience is a virtue." Three components are crucial in the education of a service dog. Primarily, obedience is the basic foundation. After this stage, public access training confirms that the dog can be obedient in outside environments. Finally, task training teaches the dog how to tend to its owner's individual needs.
Though her circumstances are unique, Carter is a regular person who welcomes conversation, but asks that people do not ask offensive questions such as, "What's wrong with you?" Talk to her; don't stare at her or at Bronx. It is okay to look; just don't interact with him, comment on him or talk to him. This distracts him from his job, which is Carter.
"It is very important that, since his job is me, that he isn't distracted," Carter said. "When people pet him, whistle at him, etc., this distracts him from me."
Though he is not allowed to be pet, get to know Bronx on social media by going to Instagram. Search @RescuedRemedyRottie for more info about Bronx and service dogs.