Poor 16 year-old Hailey Ashmore has several debilitating medical conditions including: Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome, epilepsy, reactive hypoglycemia, many severe allergies, gastroparesis and pretty bad asthma.
For this Texan teenager, life can be tough. That’s why her service dog Flynn is so important to her.
He goes everywhere with her…
“To get a service dog you must be disabled to the point where you can no longer function at a normal quality of life without the assistance of service dogs,” says Hailey.
“It takes around two years of intense training and thousands of dollars (if you owner train) to actually be able to call your dog a service dog. A service dog can go anywhere its handler goes, with the exception of a sterile environment such as an operating room or burn unit, a religious building — such as a church, or some federal buildings,” she adds.
Hailey’s conditions are serious, though. She has to have a lot of medical treatment and Flynn’s assistance is sorely needed.
There’s something Hailey wants us all to know about service dogs – we shouldn’t pet them. Service dogs need to concentrate on the well-being of their owners. Any distraction from that and they can put the owner’s life in danger. And that’s just what happened with Hailey and Flynn.
You need to watch out for – and respect – the STOP sign…
One Day, Hailey and Flynn dropped in at her dad’s place of work to visit him. A colleague of her father came over and began to fuss over the dog. Hailey warned her off, but the stroker ignored the warnings.
Then Hailey had a seizure. “I am used to him giving me 10 minute warnings, so when he alerted that’s what I thought I had,” She explained. “Out of nowhere I remember the world going black. I woke up with Flynn on top of my legs and my father cradling my head. On the whole left side of my face there was a terrible sting that made me tear up.”
It was luckily only carpet burn. Flynn was distracted, but it could’ve been a lot worse had the dog been unable to help.
Hailey goes on to inform us all, “My service dog is my lifeline. I don’t say that to be cute. He helps keep me alive just like life support. If he gets distracted this happens. If he gets distracted I can die. Do not pet service dogs. Do not call to service dogs. Do not taunt service dogs. Do not talk to service dogs. Do not do anything to service dogs.”
So, please – help people like Hailee. If you see the ‘Stop’ sign… Leave these dogs well alone!