Photo of my dog Henrietta

Meet Henrietta. Back in August 2018, I got a dog as an emotional support animal to help me with my depression. There’s a lot of misinformation about emotional support animals. Basically, the concept is that the experience of owning and caring for an animal provides emotional therapy. Thus, Henrietta isn’t specially trained or anything. I adopted her from the Animal Humane Society here in Minneapolis. But owning and caring for her is itself the therapy. Because emotional support animals are meant essentially as therapy, I am allowed to have her in my apartment even though the lease prohibits pets, since she’s technically not a pet.

Henrietta is a 35 pound Rat Terrier mix from Dothan, Alabama. She’s terrified of everyone and everything, although she is doing much better now than when I first got her. She is too scared to go on walks, but she likes other dogs, so I take her to the dog park to get her exercise in. However, we hit a milestone today because I was able to get her to walk from my apartment to the elevator on her own (I usually have to carry her)! I used a headcollar called a Gentle Leader, which got Henrietta to stop resisting when I try to walk her to the elevator. She also became way more calm than she usually is. Previously, she’s been so scared that she shakes even as I carry her to the elevator, and she jerks her head toward a noise every time she hears anything. With the new headcollar, she’s so calm that it’s almost eery. She doesn’t shake and she doesn’t react so fearfully to every sight and sound.

So far, I’ve only tried getting her to walk around inside the apartment building with the headcollar. That’s already miles above what she used to do, so I’m happy to let her get used to doing that much without pushing her any further yet. Maybe one day, she’ll be able to go on walks in the neighborhood.