This is the moment I realized Bella Picked me as her Handler and that she would become a huge part of my life.

This is the moment I realized Bella Picked me as her Handler and that she would become a huge part of my life.

Hi! My name is Valerie and this is my service dog Bella.

This is my new Favorite quote. "When 'I' becomes 'We'... 'Illness' becomes 'Wellness'"

This is my new Favorite quote. “When ‘I’ becomes ‘We’… ‘Illness’ becomes ‘Wellness'”

In October 2013, I received the most amazing gift, the opportunity to have a service dog assist me with my daily life. Since being paired with Bella I have realized just how little people (Myself included) know about everything involved with a service dog. Because of this I have decided to write this blog to shed some light on my experiences and information I have discovered in my short time as a part of a service dog team. This blog also documents my experiences with mental illness, and chronic headaches.

This dog really helps me live a normal life I never dreamed possible

This dog really helps me live a normal life I never dreamed possible

Now that I have been part of this team for almost 2 years. I have a better grasp on what it really means to have a service dog. I hope that even as I little as I write sometimes, that I can help other people to understand more about both mental illnesses and Service dog teams.

Please continue to follow Bella’s and my journey in this adventure we call life. If you have any questions or topics you’d like me to cover feel free to contact me but please note that I am not a lawyer so my advice should not be taken as legal counsel.

Happy Team

Also: I was paired with Bella through Katherine at the Animal Psychology Center in Rapid City.

19 thoughts on “About

  1. Pingback: About a NEW Guest Author - Valerie | Animal Psychology Center

  2. Pingback: Guest Author - Valerie writing about her service dog Bella | Animal Psychology Center

  3. Pingback: Bride's wedding photos with service dog go viral – KSL.com

    • I actually see a therapist and a whole group of doctors for my illnesses and having Bella as part of my treatment was suggested by them. but thank you for your concern!!

      • You handled that ignorant comment so well. I never comment on blogs but I felt that someone should mention how beautifully you handled that. Best of luck to you, Bella and Andrew.

  4. Hi Valerie, I saw your lovely wedding pic with Bella and had to write. I’ve had panic attacks since I was a child. My daughter started having them when she was ten. Thankfully, an antidepressant helped us and we both are nearly panic free. I started my blog to inspire others with anxiety and mental illness. I’ve written a post on service dogs for people with anxiety. A friend of mine’s daughter was looking into getting one. Looks like you had an amazing, beautiful wedding day! Congratulations! Take care, Jenny

  5. This is a story is close to my heart. There is nothing better then the loving touch of a dog during a panic attack. I do not know where i would be in life with out my service companion “argy”. I do know where i was before he came into my life. If you would like to share stories please reach me at my facebook accout

  6. Pingback: Bride’s wedding photos with service dog go viral

  7. Hi. My dog is training to be an anxiety alert dog, but I also suffer from chronic migraines that sometimes land me in the hospital. Did you train Bella to alert for those or did she just pick up on it? Sometimes mine can sense them and sometimes he can’t. I just cannot figure out how to make these alerts more reliable

  8. Hello. I have a 11 month old male yellow lab that Katherine found for me and is helping me train him. There are a thousand things I could talk about or ask, but one stands out in an frustrating way. I have been ill on and off for the last 6 months. There was an incident that landed me and Brayan in an ambulance to go to Rapid City Regional Hospital. The ambulance crew was awesome with him, the staff in the ER were terrible. I was asked “what’s the deal with the dog”. I explained that he was my service dog. I was told that without a vest that that hospital would not be consider him a service dog. They asked for identification for Brayan and I didn’t have it with me. (I fell on ice while taking Brayan out for his morning “chores”). I was still in my pajamas and didn’t have my purse with me. Although Brayan was on his best behavior and stayed out of the way, one of the nurses called my mother, my sister, and my brother in law to come get the dog. All three told the nurse that he was indeed my service dog. I called and made a complaint a few days later. I was asked what I would like to see done. I told him that first of all his staff needed to be trained on the basic ADA laws so that this situation didn’t happen again. And I asked for an apology from the nurse that was so rude to me. I never heard back.
    My boyfriend and Brayan had to take me into the emergency room a few nights ago. Although Brayan does not wear a vest, I do have ID tags for him and me with ADA laws on the back. I never leave the house without them anymore. The staff of the ER was very kind about Brayan. Again he is only 11 months old, but he acted like an old pro. He stayed out of the way and was completely silent. About that time, the doctor came in….As soon as he saw Brayan he hid behind the door and peeked around it to talk to me. He ask me why I had the dog, and I told him that he was my service dog. He said that no he wasn’t because he didn’t have a vest on. I immediately took out our ID tags and told him that there were some ADA laws on the back of the ID tag. He said that the dog would have to be removed before he treated me. He said that they had an employee bit by a “service dog” a few days ago and that was there protocol. He said that the dog could come back when they were done poking, prodding, and starting IVs etc. The EXACT things that Brayan could have helped me get through without so much stress and terror. I was humiliated and I don’t think Brayan could have been more confused.
    I had to go back to the hospital yesterday to have special blood work done. I did not take Brayan because I didn’t want to put him in a position to fail, and I was tired of being humiliated by the staff and their lack of knowledge. I did however ask to talk to someone to make a complaint.
    And guess what??!! It was the same man that I had talked to about the first incident. I called him out right away and reminded him that I did not receive a letter or a phone call like he promised. “Yeah, sorry”. in a VERY sarcastic tone of voice was his response. He told me that the reason that I had not received a letter or phone call was because he handed the issue up to his supervisor and there was probably some crossing of wires.
    I explained to him in all detail what had happened this time. When I showed him the ID tags, he said that he believed that he had read somewhere that once a doctor or nurse are present that that is considered being under medical care and the animal can be removed.
    Is this true??!! I mean why have a service dog at all then? The doctors way of dealing with removing Brayan was pumping me full of atavan.(sp?) I could really use some feedback and some communication with someone who is familiar with the ADA laws concerning this situation.
    May all of you be blessed and have a great day! My email address is cdbryant1972@yahoo.com, my phone # is 605-630-0518. My name is Crissy

  9. Hi, my name is Sam and I am looking for somebody with a psychiatric service dog to talk to about individual experiences. If you could email me at shermione0@gmail.com that would be amazing. I would love to hear about your experiences and gain advice. Thank you!

      • No, I completely understand and it makes total sense. Basically I was hoping to talk to a few different people about their experiences with the pros and cons of a service dog, especially things like stigma. Hope that helps!

  10. Hello,

    I hope you are well!

    I was wondering if I could possibly use your blog for reference? As I am currently studying Graphic Design (MA) in the UK and I am focusing my project about Support Dogs (Service Dogs).

    It would be very helpful and I would be very grateful if I could.

    Thank you,


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