Last year, I began training Phantom when he was two months old. Today, he is a year and a half, and a working service dog going through the final stages of training. Please do your best to ignore him. If you would like to pet him, please ask if you can "say hello," and wait for me to give him that permission. Usually, he LOVES to say hello. :)
Every morning, I choose to work towards being healthy, and this responsibility is as hidden as the challenges I face. That’s the nature of invisible disabilities. I look fine, but chronic illness, pain, and exhaustion make everyday tasks difficult. I have: Celiac Disease, an autoimmune disease that causes my body to destroy my digestive system when even the tiniest particle of gluten sneaks in; an underdeveloped nervous system in combination with hyper-developed sensory organs (in other words, I’m a super sensor with a weak nervous system); a reading disability called binocular dysfunction; and ADHD. And it takes all of the strength, privilege, and unique intelligence I’m so fortunate to have to manage my life so that I can get a PhD in Rhetoric. I love this work, and I believe my role in the world is to become a professor, and to leverage that position to advocate for people (like me and different from me) that are pushed out of society. This will be my work in all of the roles professors play, as a researcher, writer, teacher, mentor, and administrator. In the last two years, my symptoms have advanced to a point where my husband and I need help managing them.
I recently concluded a successful fundraising campaign to help my husband and I afford a service dog. Though he is already a working service dog performing basic service tasks (such as therapeutic pressure which resets my nervous system and using his body as a barrier between me and other people), as Phantom's trainer, it'll be up to me to make sure he reaches the advanced levels of training I need in my canine health-care professional. Thankfully, I have the whole crew at Diggity Dogs to help me through it.