A Friend Close at Hand: Baster, the Emotional Support Dog
For many years, Baxter has been cheering up residents at Menorah Park, a senior living community in Syracuse, NY. His owners, brothers Sehl and Chris Burns, say the Brittany Doodle–a mix of Brittany Spaniel and poodle—is a popular visitor.
The curly haired dog is friendly, quiet, and apart from drinking water out of resident’s cups, very well behaved. Residents enjoy giving the big dog belly rubs and hugs, almost as much as Baxter enjoys getting them.
The dog is also welcomed at the local grocery store and college football games at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse, NY. Sehl, formerly in the funeral business, has often been asked to take Baxter to wakes and funerals.
The dog has long been fussed over and loved by his owners, As a resident of Menorah Park said, “I think he’s the luckiest dog in the world.”
After entertaining and reassuring others for many years, the 12-year-old dog is now officially helping out his owner. Sehl Burns has been diagnosed with frontal lobe dementia. Baxter is now an Emotional Support Dog, or ESA, for Sehl. He clearly has the temperament for the job, with his limitless reservoir of love and patience.
Life as an ESA
As an ESA, Baxter gives therapeutic support to Sehl. His role is different from that of a service dog, which requires specialized training and certification. Service dogs are highly trained to help people with mental or physical challenges with specific tasks.
Baxter’s job is therapeutic, and with Sehl that means relieving stress. Sehl often suffers from panic attacks. With the dog at his side, he can calm down quickly, according to his wife Linda. Patients with dementia often suffer from anxiety, as well as depression.
According to Linda, the presence of a dog helps lower Sehl’s blood pressure. Just the act of petting a dog focuses a person a attention, redirecting it away from the trouble causing the stress. As every dog owner knows, you forget your problems when you’re scratching your dog’s ears and rubbing his belly.
The rules governing where an emotional support dog can go are different from those governing service dogs. Two laws, the Air Carriers Access Act and the Fair Housing Authority, mean Baxter can accompany Sehl on a plane and move into housing with him. That’s true even if the residence doesn’t allow dogs as a rule.
As a sign of his new status, Baxter now sports a red vest, and Sehl has a lanyard that matches. His owner is happy to have Baxter at his side as he goes through his day. “He’s just a wonderful guy, who likes to be with me.”
More Information About Emotional Support Animals
Do you have questions about emotional support animals like Baxter? The USA Service Dog Registration website has a wide range of information and resources about them, including:
Most importantly, USA Service Dog Registration makes it easy to register your emotional support animal. It takes just 3 simple steps, and it’s free!
The site also has an online store with a variety of practical gear for your emotional support animal. Check out the options for tags, ID cards, certificates, vests, leashes and patches.
Quickly and easily register your emotional support animal today by visiting USA Service Animal Registration.
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