Peach Adore Malvern
Psychiatric Service Dog
“After nine years of inpatient care and being transferred from hospital to hospital I’m finally stable enough to be an outpatient. With the immense amount of support from my care team, I know that Peach and I have a happy life ahead of us…”
For the past year, I’ve been saving for a service dog to help me with my disability. Due to several years as an inpatient at multiple hospitals, I never really learned how to self-regulate or communicate with the general public. I always had my food and shelter provided, my meds were given to me automatically by nurses and staff, I was told when to shower, when/if I was allowed to go outside, my visiting hours with my family lasted anywhere from 20 minutes a day to 2 hours, and I slept with a camera in my room. As you can see, I’ve basically depended on other people for my entire adolescence because these hospitalizations took place between the ages of 13-20.
I kept up with my schooling and always made sure I was at the same level as my would-be classmates. I never really thought that when I was released from the hospital I would have to communicate with the world in a whole new way. I never went to semi-formal, my dating life consisted of people either in the hospital or who I met through the hospital, I never attended a regular high-school class since my schooling was individualized, and I never had to worry about money because I never needed any. I never had to deal with high school popularity, peer pressure, and all the teachers I had I liked because I got to choose from several teachers to make my schooling as comfortable as possible. So, coming out of the hospital and flinging myself straight into university was scary and I had to deal with several relapses.
I worked at PetSmart for about a year after I was released from the hospital and I found the one thing that made me feel normal: animals. I love animals because they don’t judge people based on appearance, social status, money, disabilities, or their past troubles because animals simply don’t know how to judge. As people, we are taught what is “right” and what is “wrong” while growing up in different cultures shapes us into the people we are today. Living in Ontario Canada and attending a high-level and well-known university is a completely different culture than a hospital filled with people suffering disabilities that were characterized by anger, muteness, depression, fear, and self-mutilation.
Walking into university I was terrified, all of these kids are talking about the differences in high school versus the differences in university, we watch videos in class comparing the two and everyone laughs at the candid humour but I sit there with no idea what it was like to be a normal kid. Social circles are already formed, topics of discussion go over social media aspects that I never even heard of, semi-formals and proms pictures are passed around, and most of the students already know how to write notes, listen to a three-hour lecture, and do their own homework. When I was in my schooling I never had to take notes, I only worked with 30-minute sessions with a teacher and a max of two one-hour sessions of homework a day because I had to focus on my treatment. I quickly learned that not only school but the entire experience of university was going to much harder than I thought.
I was provided with a care team at McMaster University Wellness Centre who are some of the greatest medical professionals I’ve had the pleasure of knowing, and after suffering a couple relapses the idea of a service dog started to float around. Everyone knew I loved dogs, I was living alone, and I suffered from lack of object-permanence which put me into states of dissociation, depression, fear, and anger. After being put on the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) to give me some financial support I was wold about the “service dog benefit”. This benefit didn’t include adoption or training fees but once these steps were completed ODSP will send an extra $70 to my monthly income to support the service dog. I opened up a Go Fund Me and the response was incredible. I started to feel validated, loved, and every day I got a little more hopeful for my future. After a year of saving, I was blessed with the opportunity to adopt my service puppy, Peach.
I started out with a cat before I adopted a dog because cats are less maintenance. I rescued a senior cat named Momo and fell in love with her right away. Around five months later Peach the service dog came home. Peach will be starting her service dog training on April 2nd. She’s two months old and a little bit of a troublemaker but I couldn’t be happier to have her in my life. Peach will be learning several techniques to help support me, but for the next month, our goal is to bond and have some puppy fun! I want to thank every single person who donated to #BringPeachHome and I couldn’t be happier to tell you she’s home now and thriving. I’m so grateful.
What will Peach learn to do?
- Deep pressure therapy
- Reminders for medication, sleep, and food
- Retrieve lost wallet, keys, and phone
- Hold important medical documents in case of a crisis
- Guide me to safety
- Interrupt impulsive and/or compulsive behaviours
- Alert to oncoming panic attacks, fainting spells, or nausea
- Bark for help if I am in danger or a crisis
- Interrupt dissociation and dangerous behaviours
- Stand between me and someone else if I become aggressive or angry
- Wake me up when I am having night terrors
- The point I want to make isn’t something Peach will learn to do, but something I will. Peach will give me the responsibility, reliability, a dedication I need to recover because she is dependant on me just as much as I am with her