“Endicott is an amazing place to call home, especially with a dog.”
Chloe Hoyt ’23 knew long-before she chose Endicott College that she wanted to bring a service dog with her. However, once she found her ideal companion, Bailey, a new adventure began when it came to finding information on a potential collegiate home for the two of them. Many colleges lacked details on their websites about service dogs and others just didn’t seem to fit their needs, but with the help of her parents and The Division of Academic Success and the Center for Accessibility Services, Hoyt did find it in Endicott.
Today, she is sharing her story in the hope that it will help people learn something new or ease the minds of incoming freshman that would like to bring their service dogs.
Hoyt says, “When I first started looking for a service dog there was so much I didn’t know. I began researching everything that went into it, but I didn’t really find too much about service dogs at colleges. That was a pretty large bump in the road since I was going to be at Endicott that coming fall. It was difficult to convince my parents that it would be a good idea when half the information I needed to know I couldn’t find. However, now that I have a service dog and I’m at college, life has been a lot easier. That is why I would like to share some of the things I’ve learned over the past year with others that may need a service dog on their campus.”
Bailey the Service Dog
“One common misconception I hear when I’m walking around with my service dog, Bailey, is, ‘Oh look, a therapy dog.’ It can be a fairly confusing topic because nowadays, there are so many different little helpers walking around by peoples’ sides. The main difference between them is the training and registration process. Not all service dogs have to be registered, but it is highly recommended so that the dog can’t be denied access to buildings. Plus, service dogs are trained to perform certain tasks for a disability, such as letting a diabetic know their glucose is getting dangerously low, or to protect someone’s head during a seizure.
“In Bailey’s case, she is a registered service dog with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and is fully trained to assist someone with a mental illness. Her special tasks consist of preventing panic attacks, comfort, stopping panic attacks, and keeping her owner happy and mentally stable.”
Therapy and Emotional Pet Roles in Mental Health
“A therapy pet doesn’t need to be trained or registered, and is usually used in facilities to comfort people and provide attention. Studies have shown that spending time with therapy dogs helps to lower blood pressure and heart rates, reduce anxiety, and increase endorphins and oxytocin. That is why many colleges (Endicott included) bring in therapy dogs close to final exams.
“Emotional support pets are very similar. They are not subjected to training, nor do they need to be registered. They are there to provide comfort, a calming presence, and company. But, unlike service dogs, therapy dogs and emotional support pets have limited access to specific buildings. Therapy dogs can only go places regular pets are allowed, and emotional support pets are subject to the same law, but they are also allowed on airplanes and in apartments. Service dogs like Bailey are allowed to follow their owner anywhere they go.
“Even though therapy pets and emotional support pets don’t have to go through specific training, they usually complete regular obedience training like most pets. No matter the type of companion you would like to have support you, they will likely have to be trained in some way.”
Training Your Companion
“In my opinion, you can always continue training your dog. Even if the dog has been through every training program there is, you should still go over the basics and task training. All dogs are puppies at heart and have that cute disobedience in them so they are bound to act out on occasion. By constantly reviewing training, you will help them learn how to always behave.
“It’s as easy as setting aside ten minutes a day, or an hour once a week to just practice a few things or teach them something new. Another good tip is to carry a bag of treats and a toy or two in your backpack. I also recommend a collapsible bowl to carry with you everywhere for when they get thirsty during the day. Occasionally, on Bailey’s bad days she will get a little restless in a class and want attention. So, to stop her crying, I will give her a toy to chew on by my feet. It calms her down and allows me to go back to taking notes. Even having a well-trained service dog doesn’t mean taking care of them will be a piece of cake.”
Commitment to Your Companion
“Some people think it is easy having a service dog. I can promise you that it’s actually very hard. I always compare it to taking care of a toddler. Those who have babysat, nannied, or even had a younger sibling will understand the struggle. Toddlers need constant love and attention, they need feeding at specific times, a certain amount of sleep, etc. Taking care of a dog is very similar.
“With Bailey, she is my big baby. She has to be fed at certain times each day, she needs to be taken out every few hours, and she also needs a lot of love and attention. Plus, she is very expensive. I believe the first week of college I heard at least twenty people say they want to get a dog of their own. Now usually I would say do it, dogs are great companions, but they are also extremely difficult to take care of by yourself. I was quite lucky that I had six months of help from my parents before I was on my own. It was a little bit easier to prepare myself for school with their help, but I still had many challenges.”
Planning out Your Life with a Companion
“When I was preparing myself for college with a service dog, the biggest concern I had was simply, was it possible to do? When searching for colleges to apply for, there weren’t many that posted their policies about service animals. But, after many phone calls and a lot of research, I chose Endicott to be not only my new home, but Bailey’s too. Myself or my mother called the school about once a week for the duration of the entire summer with new questions and concerns about housing, classes, or something else that we thought of. It wasn’t until I got to school that I was finally able to breathe because everything was finally done. The Division of Academic Success and the Center for Accessibility Service was very helpful in the process, and I recommend contacting them if you have any questions about having a service dog or anything else.
“On another note when packing everything for college, I definitely recommend being over-prepared. When I’m at Endicott, I am about two and a half hours from home so I can go back if needed, but it’s not an easy drive. So, when I initially packed for Bailey I needed to know she would be good until Christmas break. I bought all her food for the semester before moving and made sure I packed all of her belongings, such as doggy bags, food and water bowls, food, crate and bed, etc.
“It is also important to be be aware of your surroundings. The first thing I ask people is if they are allergic to dogs or if they don’t like them. I don’t ever want to make anyone uncomfortable. Most people do love dogs, but not all, so it is always good to be considerate.
“Another thing about sharing your life with a service dog is that you become known as the girl with the dog. Just about everyone I met during the first few weeks of school knew me as that, or the girl that walks the dog, or no one at all, but everyone knew Bailey and that was fine with me. I would pass people and hear them say ‘hi’ to Bailey, and it always made her smile. But after a while, we both made friends and had our own little family at Endicott.”
Part of the Community = Lots of Questions
“Even though Bailey is my service dog and usually comes with me everywhere, I do decide to give her days off so that she can catch up on sleep instead of laying on a classroom floor. She comes with me to all but one class, and usually just lays at my feet. I will occasionally bring her to the library with me or to see friends, but she is a pretty sleepy dog, so she enjoys staying home and resting. The best part about having a service dog on campus with me is that I get to see her with other people as well. I consider Bailey to be the campus ‘family dog,’ the one you can play with, pet, cuddle, etc. I want Bailey to be happy too.
“When I’m walking around the campus with Bailey, we get asked a lot of questions. The number one most frequently asked question I get is, ‘Can I pet your dog?’ The only answer to that question all depends on the owner. Over the years, people were basically trained to not pet service dogs when on duty. But many owners do allow it. A lot of the time the dogs that can’t be pet are there for a full attention needed disability, and by petting them it will distract them from their job. For me personally, I do allow people to pet Bailey as long as it’s not during a class. I do it because even though I need her for myself, it makes me happy knowing that allowing others to pet her and give her love can also help them.
“A few of the other questions I get asked are, ‘Why do you have a service dog?,’ ‘Does she live with you on campus?,’ and ‘Is she allowed on campus?’ The answers to all of them are quite simple. Technically, by law people can’t ask why you need a service animal, because they are protected under the ADA. So, don’t take offense if they decide not to answer you. Personally, I am fine sharing that I have Bailey for a mental illness I was diagnosed with a few years ago. To answer the other questions, yes, Bailey lives with me, yes, she is allowed on campus. Bailey and I share a single and she is allowed anywhere on campus that I go.
“Having a dog for a companion is a wonderful thing, but since it is difficult, it is important to look for help wherever we can find it. Endicott is an amazing place to call home, especially with a dog.”
- Alt, Kimberly, et al. “Service Dog vs Therapy Dog vs Emotional Support Dogs.”CanineJournal.com, 10 July 2017, caninejournal.com/service-dog-vs-therapy-dog-vs-emotional-support-dogs/.
- “Frequently Asked Questions.” US Dog Registry, usdogregistry.org/faqs/.
- “Can You Take a Therapy Dog Anywhere?”Alliance of Therapy Dogs Inc., 10 Sept. 2019, therapydogs.com/can-you-take-a-therapy-dog-anywhere/.
- “Emotional Support Animal Laws.”Service Dog Certifications, servicedogcertifications.org/emotional-support-animal-laws/.