Animal lovers everywhere can confirm that us humans aren’t worthy of our furry, feathered, and finned friends’ unconditional love and attention. Pet owners and their non-human companions are capable of forging incredible bonds — bonds that run so deep, they can be difficult to comprehend for those who don’t have pets in their own lives.
With the definitions of “emotional support pets” and “service pets” expanding in recent years as these bonds have become better acknowledged, you can expect to encounter all sorts of animals in your day-to-day life, from dogs to peacocks to miniature horses. For that reason, a 20-year-old woman named Tessa Connaughton took to Tumblr to pen an important post that explains exactly how service animals work.
Our story begins about two and a half years ago when the Bay Area resident adopted a pudgy puppy to help her overcome challenges related to her autism…
Meet Raider, Tessa's service dog.
After adopting the English mastiff and bull mastiff mix, Tessa taught him how to help her under the guidance of a local dog training company, she told HuffPost.
Raider is now an expert in applying deep-pressure therapy whenever Tessa gets overwhelmed.
Tessa was recently diagnosed with epilepsy, so Raider is now being trained to assist her with seizures, too.
Raider is currently being trained to go get help if Tessa appears to be having a seizure. (It’s one of the many different techniques service dogs utilize when assisting a person with epilepsy.)
Tessa and Raider recently experienced something that prompted her to pen an important PSA on Tumblr.
Tessa was frustrated that a bystander ignored Raider’s pleas for assistance after he thought she had suffered a seizure during their trip to the grocery store last week.
Tessa took the time to explain proper protocol to people who may not know what to do when approached by a service dog — a fairly rare occurrence.
Confused by Tessa's advice? That's understandable...
After all, most of us have been taught not to pay attention to service dogs because it distracts them from their work.
Tessa's PSA was later reposted to Twitter, where it quickly went viral.
Tessa’s perspective was one that few people had encountered before, and they were thankful she shared it with the world.
“I see constant posts everywhere reminding people don’t touch the service dog, don’t look at them, don’t interact,” Tessa told BuzzFeed News. “However, if the service dog is alone that’s an issue because they’re trying to get your attention.”
She added: “It was a good thing I talked about it because apparently a lot of people would have just left him alone.”
Tessa’s PSA has really resonated with people who aren’t particularly dog-inclined.
The dog lovers among us, meanwhile, couldn’t figure out why anyone would ever swat a pup away.
In response to Tessa's story, the "Today" show brought a service dog trainer on air to answer people's lingering questions about the issue.
Tessa has been blown away by the response to her PSA.
“It’s great. It’s a little overwhelming, but I’m really glad that the message is out there,” she told BuzzFeed.
It’s important to remember that service dogs behave differently depending on how they’re trained and what they’re trained for. Thanks for sharing, Tessa!