I am an animal lover, and have had a connection with all animals my entire life. I even wanted to be a vet for a very long time, although working at a vet hospital in high school pretty much eliminated that dream as I learned that it wasn’t what I thought it would be.
While I love all animals, and really all living beings (except ants—can’t stand them haha!), my passion has always been dogs. Growing up, I almost always had a dog, and found myself connecting with almost any dog I met. I seemed to understand them, as they did me. Even the troubled ones, the ones with “issues” were no problem for me and became my closest friends.
Knowing what I know now, it makes so much sense that I was so close to animals. Animals are real, honest, and don’t play games when it comes to how they communicate—basically, they wear their hearts on their sleeves, as the expression goes. People were hard for me to understand, with saying one thing and meaning another, so why not make my best friends animals?
Anyway…fast forward to the mid 2010s. After having moved out of my parents’ house several years prior, I had lived with roommates, and, although not my own, got to share their pets, living with several cats and a couple of dogs. Having these animals around gave me a sense of calm and connection. Even though I desperately wanted a dog of my own, the time was not right for several reasons, so I lived vicariously through my roommates’ furbabies.
In early 2015, I was living on my own for the first time in my entire life and had no furry friends that I was regularly seeing. Job wise things were ok, good enough that I could support a dog, so on Valentine’s Day, I went looking for my new best friend.
I’ll get into the whole story some other time, but long story short, that day I met my soulmate, a skinny, scraggly looking little white dog who I named Monty.
After seeing how much he helped me with my anxiety and other conditions that come along with autism (usually), I went through the official steps necessary to register him as my emotional support dog. NOTE: DO NOT USE THE ONLINE REGISTRIES—ALL FAKE!! (I am a bit opinionated on that subject ? )
Then, as I was doing more research and learning about my autism, having only been diagnosed shortly before Monty became part of my life, I read about service dogs for people with autism. I had seen this before with kids, but never with an adult. As far as I knew at the time, a service dog could help adults who were blind, deaf, had seizures, or some sort of physical challenge, like being in a wheelchair. But little did I know that dogs can do so much more!
Monty had a naturally great temperament, loved to learn, and was very smart, so I did some research and began to train him as my service dog, with some help from a professional. Countless months and hours of training later, we passed her test and became an official team!
I promise to share more of our story and the training later, but for now, one thing I want to clear up is that while I love Monty and want him with me all the time as all fur parents do, I wish I didn’t need him to be with me. See the difference there?
Whether you have autism or another disability that benefits from a service dog, please remember that when he is out and about with me, he is working. He gets great pleasure in all the places he goes, but it takes a lot of concentration on his part. Plus sometimes, I just want to go grocery shopping and not answer a million questions about him. It’s hard enough to be stimulating environments like the grocery store without more stimulation of a conversation.
So, my PSA for the day: invisible disabilities are real, service dogs for these people are legit, and while Monty would love the attention, he’s a working pup and has got to earn those treats haha! There will be lots more to come about Monty in the future, so wanted to give him a formal introduction first.
Love you Mr. Monty Man/Mr. Man/Montiferous/Montyfur/all the other nicknames you have!