A Service Dog for Shelli
Hello! My name is Shelli and I am 32 years old. I have been deaf since birth. I have also struggled with chronic illnesses for most of my life and was diagnosed with PTSD five years ago.
My deafness prevents me from being aware of my surroundings and increases my PTSD-related hypervigilance. These challenges make it hard for me to navigate and feel safe in public situations as well as when home alone. I am unable to hear sounds such as people walking up behind me in public spaces, my name being called at doctors’ offices, and fire and safety alarms at home and in public areas.
I need a service dog to alert me to sounds in my environment—which will reduce my PTSD symptoms and lower my stress levels—and to help me when I am experiencing a chronic illness flare. I have to rely on my wife, Jessica, to tell me about sounds around the house and she helps take care of me during a chronic illness flare, but I want to be more independent and not need to rely on others all the time.
A dog would alert me to sounds, and be an extra set of ears in my surrounding. My future service dog would also create more buffer space between me and other people. A dog would also be aware of when I am experiencing distress or anxiety by providing deep pressure therapy, and waking me up from nightmares that contribute to my PTSD symptoms.
During a chronic illness flare, a dog would help pick up dropped items on the floor and open and close doors to help me reserve my energy for other day-to-day tasks. I need a service dog to also be my companion when I am struggling. A dog would take some of these tasks off of my wife, so we can just be a couple and enjoy being together.
Prior to COVID-19, I was in the process of becoming a Certified Pilates Instructor. I hope to return to the certification process when it is safe to do so. It has always been my dream to teach Pilates and a service dog will be a great help in returning to the workforce. A service dog would help me gain more confidence in my life to do the things I would like to do by reducing my PTSD symptoms and helping me function out in the world. Going on leisurely walks and playing with my service dog would also greatly benefit my mental health.