My husband has bipolar disorder (Type II - so it's pretty much all depression/anxiety with no mania), and SEVERE depression. Recently a friend suggested looking into a service dog.
My husband has always loved dogs (and wanted one) but we've stuck to cats due to apartment living. He's a really gentle soul and animals always take to him. (He's the guy who people will say "Oh that animal never lets anyone hold/touch them" and within minutes Michael will be holding/cuddling - it's incredible)
He's "mostly" functional - his primary struggles are social anxiety/agoraphobia (HATES leaving the house and only for an hour or two at a time before he gets tired), panic attacks and "intrusive thoughts" - he'll fixate on something and sit in a corner thinking about it for hours a day.
A service dog was suggested to help him during panic attacks and "break" him out of the intrusive thoughts - as well as to provide a reason/comfort when out of our home. (Plus reminding him to take his meds/wake up on time would be a BIG load off my mind...)
Finances are tight (and he's not a veteran) so investing 5-10k in some of the programs I've seen is really impossible. I've never owned a dog but I'm fairly confident I can handle a lot of training (I used to do ABA therapy with autistic toddlers - so there's very little that rattles me anymore).
Basically my questions are the following:
- Where do we start looking? Breeders? Rescue groups? Ideas?
-How hard is it to self-train a psych SD? (I'm concerned about doing it ourselves because I know it'll all fall on me and I'm not sure with a full time job AND helping him I'll do it properly)
- Suggestions for breeds?
- Do any of you have your SDs trained for the tasks mentioned above or any others that might be useful?
We're located in the SF bay area (San Francisco/San Jose, CA), and we're willing to travel a bit - but really are just looking for a place to start!