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Toby

I work evenings now. I’m usually gone when Sammy goes to bed. Which wouldn’t be a problem, if Sammy didn’t have crippling anxiety.

Unfortunately, Sammy does have crippling anxiety, with a side of depression. The worst of it is at bedtime.

One night I was lamenting that I would give anything for Sammy to have a dog that could go to bed with her every night. A furry friend that Sammy could find comfort in when I’m not there. I’d train the dog that Sammy was his human and he could help her not be scared.

The catch is, our rent goes up a couple of hundred dollars and we’d need to pay a hefty security deposit if we got a dog. And while we could mostly afford the basics of dog ownership, we can not afford extra rent.

Then my best friend suggested an ESA dog and it’s like suddenly the skies had cleared. ESA dogs and their disabled humans are a protected class and legally our landlord can not charge us extra rent or a security deposit for one. And Sammy is in for real, legitimate need.

I spoke to Sammy’s therapist, and she is in huge support of the idea. She’s looking into what she needs to do on her end, then she’s going to write a letter that basically prescribes Sammy with an ESA. We’ll take that letter and a print out of the law to our landlord and have them add that to our file.

Then we’re going to go to the shelter and find a pitbull or pitbull mix that responds to Sammy as the sad puppy she is. Pitbulls make excellent ESA dogs.

Together we’ll train him with the standard set of obedience commands like sit and stay. I’ll also train him to sleep in Sammy’s room at night. Since he won’t be going to the grocery store or other errands, the basic discipline commands are all he really needs. I’ll also train him on how to be walked by the 9yo, who isn’t very strong. We’ll walk her together right now, but as she gets older I want her to be able to take her dog around the neighborhood by herself, without the dog pulling on the leash.

I told Sammy about the decision a few days after I made it. She’s in research mode very concerned with learning how to train, the best food options, the best dog beds and toys, and “we’re going to get the dog chipped, right mom?”

It took her all of 24 hours to name the dog we don’t have and that we’ve never met. I campaigned for Ativan since the dog would be helping her with Anxiety. She considered it but eventually settled on Toby. Her only concern was the Toby was a boy’s name and the dog might be a girl. I pointed out dogs don’t have a gender and that blew her mind but settled the problem.

We’ll welcome Toby into our life within the next 6 months.

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