By Bridget Gum-Egan
After writing for The Rider News for quite some time, I thought it was time to hear from someone new, the campus’s favorite golden boy: Sheriff. I am writing this article on Sheriff’s behalf and from his perspective so that the campus can know his opinions.
While I’m everyone’s favorite to look at during class and I cheer everyone up with my adorable smile and tail wags, I’m actually at Rider for a real reason and it’s not to get a degree. I work as a service dog, as my blue vest announces. Many people ask my person about my name and whether I am a boy or a girl (just check my pronoun pin on my vest, courtesy of Spectrum), but they rarely ask my person what I do as a service dog. Some people may be scared to ask my person out of fear of offending her, but if you thought I was cute just walking around, wait till you see me working.
I do various tasks for my person. I pick up the many things that my person drops on a daily basis, I can alert people and my person to when she may have a seizure, POTS episode or extreme blood pressure change. I can pull drawers, cabinets and doors when they are too heavy for her, and most importantly, I sleep on top of her legs at night, so that she can sleep through the night without being bothered by her spasms. Looking cute is just my natural state, I don’t have to work on that.
Unfortunately, there are a lot of challenges that she and I face. I, a service dog, am not an emotional support animal or a therapy dog. Because emotional support animals and therapy dogs serve more of an emotional aid to people, they often think they can just come up and pet me, which is not allowed for service dogs.
When I am not working, I’m actually very friendly and affectionate. Anyone who has got to see me in my room when I’m not working knows that I’m silly, playful and especially love belly scratches and giving kisses. However, when I’m working and someone tries to pet me or talk to me, it distracts me. When that happens, I’m no longer focused on my person and then I might not be able to help her.
Also, as a service dog, I have been to college and have a diploma. I’ve worked my whole life, even as a young pup, to be a working boy, so I deserve to be here. My person had to submit all kinds of forms and I had to go to the vet and that is never fun for me.
I love my person very much. I enjoy going to work, getting dressed and helping my person; sometimes she really needs it. I am very involved on campus as the mascot of many clubs and now as a writer for The Rider News. I especially love National Service Dog Awareness Month, which is currently going on. It makes me feel special and recognized for all of my hard work.