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Review for Exceptional Sidekick Inc, Newtown, CT, USA

Rating: 5 stars  

I was fourteen when I was assaulted leaving me with post traumatic stress disorder or PTSD. After spending almost two years in treatment, I wondered if anything could help. Someone I knew suggested getting a psychiatric service dog after watching a dog be able to pull me out of a dissociative episode. If just a normal dog could help me so much, I wondered how much a task-trained service dog could help me. Once my family and I made the decision to pursue getting a service dog, we realized how difficult it would be to find an organization that trained the type of service dog I was looking for. There were plenty of organizations and programs that trained PTSD service dogs for veterans, and even some that trained them for civilians, but there was always an age requirement. No one seemed to realize that kids could go through trauma too. Kids could struggle with PTSD just like any adult or veteran. The Exceptional Sidekick is one of the only organizations that provides psychiatric service dogs for kids, teens, and young adults. I stumbled upon their website and submitted an online application. Abby Hill quickly responded letting us know that I had been accepted. Abby helped me find the right breeder, pick the right puppy, she provided me with a already trained dog until the puppy was ready, and has supported me and my family through the entire process. After having my service dog, Etta, for a few months, I started to get sick. I began fainting multiple times a day and felt tired and weak all the time. I was later diagnosed with a disorder that affects my autonomic nervous system. POTS or postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome, could have left me stuck in bed or wheelchair-bound. Fortunately, Etta began alerting me before I pass out. She would paw at me, whine and even pull me down to the floor. She would warn me before I would even begin to feel lightheaded. Knowing that she could alert me before I fainted gave me the time to sit down and get to a safe place to prevent me from getting hurt. Etta has saved my life on more than one occasion. She has alerted to me multiple times while I was walking on the stairs, saving me from falling and getting injured. My puppy in training, Penelope, started to perform these medical alerts as young as four months old. I trust that when it is time for Etta to leave that Penelope will keep me safe just like Etta did. Getting a service dog was a game changer. I’m now able to go into public, finish my education, stand on my own, walk up and down the stairs, stop worrying about when I will faint next, and most of all be a normal happy kid. This is all thanks to Abby Hill and The Exceptional Sidekick. I am forever grateful for all the opportunities they have provided me with.

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