Harry Potter is my daughter's service animal and hands down, the greatest prescription a doctor could give Rose (she asked me to refer to her as Rose, her new pen name).
At eleven years old, this kid oozes charisma and creativity. She's president of her school, runs the yearbook club and pretty much the entire student body. She's kind, gentle and all that is good in the world but sometimes, her brain shuts down and she stops functioning. This only happens in medical situations, such as going to the pediatrician, dentist or getting blood drawn. A glaze slides over her eyes and she becomes animalistic with little understanding of what took place.
After receiving a prescription from her psychiatrist, this little beauty hauled Harry to her appointments. He'd lick her face, sit on her lap or give a little whimper to remind her to breathe, in and out until she realizes she's safe. Her ability to function in those stressful moments was all because of a bundle of black fur.
At least, it's supposed to work that way. Rose needed to update her immunizations for middle school next year. Her records showed she was missing a vaccine. We show up to her pediatrician's office, Harry in tow. After changing into the hideous medical gown, Rose's hands started to shake. Her skin broke out in chills, panic on the verge. Harry began licking her when she didn't respond.
The pediatrician walked in and stared at the dog. She backed up against the door stating she's terrified of dogs. Rose started humming and rocking on the exam table. Harry jumped to the table to get to her.
The doctor yelped, flattening against the door. She yelled for the dog to be removed. Harry laid on top of Rose, forcing her to still, to calm down.
The doctor screamed at me to take the dog out. Harry turned toward the doctor, whimpering for her to calm down for Rose's sake.
The doctor snapped at me. Harry jumped down, standing between her and Rose.
I snapped a leash on Harry and looked from both Rose to the doctor, not sure what to do. The doctor said service dogs aren't allowed and that she'd prescribe medication for Rose's anxiety. She yelled (because Rose and Harry were too loud) that service dogs were for the blind, not someone Rose (she quite literally said, she has good grades, she doesn't need a dog).
The doctor then approached Rose for the exam. Rose lost it, and then Harry leapt towards her, trying to do the job he was meant to do. The doctor panicked and shrieked, ensuing complete and total chaos. In one fell swoop, the enormous amount of effort we'd taken to ease Rose's functionality in medical situations was destroyed.
At the end of the appointment (if I could call it that) the doctor said Rose already had the "missing" vaccine. The office hadn't updated the records properly.
I took my trembling child and her dog home. She didn't speak, her lips gray and her skin ashen. She's still ashamed.
Doctors are human, that I know. But so is Rose. She kept repeating the law stating no one can take her dog from her (it is illegal to separate a service dog from the handler).
And so here I am, begging for understanding. Next time you see someone with a service dog, remember Rose and Harry. Instead of judging, be kind.