+
upworthy
Family

The brilliant reason this dog trainer is having school teachers train service dogs.

A furry friend can do so much more than snuggle you when you've had a bad day.

Kathryn Oda has been living with anxiety and depression since she was 14.

There's no such thing as a quick fix for either, and given the symptoms of both, it's often difficult for people living with them to find the motivation to attempt treatment.

For Oda, everything changed when she adopted a furry little corgi named Buddy.


Buddy looks like quite the puddin in this pic! #rolleypolley #badangle #corgisgottacorg #cutiepie

A photo posted by Corgis Gotta Corg (They Must!) (@corgisgottacorg) on

"Before Buddy, I couldn't bring myself to roll out of bed sometimes, especially when I was feeling down," Oda wrote in an email. "But Buddy's little face, his smile, his contagious joy, gets me up every day, even on the hardest ones, when the world feels dark and gloomy."

Buddy is not a trained psychiatric service dog, but he happened to be just what Oda needed. And Oda is far from the only person to have found the four-legged companionship of a dog soothing.

Many people living with mental illness need the support of a specially trained service dog. Which is where Abby Hill comes in.

As a professional dog trainer, Hill had many people come to her looking for help finding a service dog, especially for debilitating anxiety.

About Buddy, Oda wrote, "having a companion who never judges, who is always happy to see you, who loves you unconditionally through the good and bad, is the most uplifting feeling in the world."

But trained service dogs are more than just companions — they're trained to do things like help stop panic attacks, lead their handler to the nearest exit if they are overwhelmed, and nudge them outside to run errands or for a walk to get exercise.

"When I started looking into ways to help these people, I found there was a two- to three-year wait nationwide for service dogs," said Hill. Not to mention, a certified psychiatric service dog costs $25,000 on average and is usually not covered by insurance.

Hill embarked on a mission to get people the help they needed without the extraordinary cost or lengthy wait time.

Meet Bella. Photo courtesy of The Exceptional Partner Service Dogs.

Hill is the founder of The Exceptional Partner Service Dogs (TEPSD), a nonprofit organization that offers service dogs to children and adults living with various mental illnesses. The program is based solely on donations, which means she is able to pair people with service dogs free of charge.  

TESPD works with each person's therapist to make sure the dog's support skills match their specific needs.

Most of the TEPSD dog trainers are also teachers who bring the dogs into their classrooms to get used to working and being around lots of children and chaos.

Bridget Berechid is a TEPSD dog trainer and a science teacher at Newtown High School in Connecticut.

Berechid couldn't believe how calm and well-mannered her puppy-in-training, Jake, was right from the beginning. "Even though he was only four months old at the time, it was obvious the puppy already understood that when the vest was on, he was 'at work,'" Berechid wrote in an email.

Berechid with puppy Jake. Photo courtesy of The Exceptional Partner Service Dogs.

‌The puppies spend 15 months going through basic training with their teacher trainers, which includes a lot of public interaction with students.

Taking the puppies to school also encourages the students to ask questions about mental health.

"We’ve seen kids come up, ask about the dogs, then all of a sudden it starts a conversation about how they feel anxiety in certain situations," says Hill. "It's really helping break down the mental health stigma."

Berechid also points out the regular presence of the dogs in classrooms is raising awareness around the importance of service dogs for any sort of disability.

In 2017, TESPD plans to launch a teen trainer program that will assign high school students a dog to train at intervals throughout the day to help them get a better sense of what kinds of benefits service dogs provide and how to work with them.

"By involving the community in the raising of these puppies, we are educating people about the lifesaving role these dogs play," Berechid said.

TESPD's unique classroom training method for service dogs means the dogs won't just help the person they're eventually paired with — they're helping entire classrooms of students along the way.

Because of the stigma that still exists around mental illness, many people in need don't reach out and ask for help when they need it. Normalizing discussions about mental health — and the idea that service dogs are what some people need to feel safe and functional in the world — to kids at a young age lets those kids know that there's nothing wrong with asking for help if you need it.

Even if the students don't end up needing service dogs themselves, their experience with TEPSD will make them more compassionate to anyone they encounter who lives with one. Compassion, much like a friendly dog, is one thing that can make a tough situation better.

‌Bella and her pup-raising family. Photo courtesy of The Exceptional Partner Service Dogs.

It's rare enough to capture one antler being shed

For those not well versed in moose facts, the shedding of antlers is normally a fairly lengthy process. It happens only once a year after mating season and usually consists of a moose losing one antler at a time.

It’s incredibly rare for a bull moose to lose both at the same time—and even more rare that someone would actually catch it on film.

That’s why shed hunter (yes, that’s a real term) and woodsman Derek Burgoyne calls his footage of the phenomenon a “one-in-a-million” shot.

Keep ReadingShow less
Science

Should we wear shoes in the house? Experts weigh in and turns out we should stop immediately.

It's a common practice in the west that may be grosser than we realize.

Experts seem to agree that shoes shouldn't be worn inside

Growing up nearly everyone knew of one house that didn't allow people to wear shoes inside. It didn't matter if you accidentally wore your socks with the hole in them, there were no exceptions–shoes off. For many folks it was just seen as a quirk for that particular family and there wasn't much thought given into why they were adamant about enforcing the rule.

But it turns out that wearing shoes inside is more of a western culture thing than a global one, which makes Americans a minority in keeping outside shoes on while inside the house. It would seem that other countries may have had a bit more of an understanding on why it's a bad idea to wear shoes inside.

Common sense tells us that wearing shoes inside means you'll be sweeping and mopping more often than you'd like. Of course you track in dirt but there are apparently hundreds of bacteria and fungi that you're tracking in that can cause your family to get sick.

Keep ReadingShow less

A map of the United States post land-ice melt.


Land ice: We got a lot of it.

Considering the two largest ice sheets on earth — the one on Antarctica and the one on Greenland — extend more than 6 million square miles combined ... yeah, we're talkin' a lot of ice.

But what if it was all just ... gone? Not like gone gone, but melted?

Keep ReadingShow less
Photos by Daniela on Unsplash (left) and Rens D on Unsplash (right)

Peeling garlic is notoriously challenging.

If you ever cook with fresh garlic, you know what a challenge it can be to remove the cloves from the skin cleanly, especially if you're starting with a full head.

There are various methods people use to peel garlic, with varying levels of success. Doing it by hand works, but will leave you with garlic-smelling fingertips for the better part of a day. Whacking the head on the counter helps separate the cloves from each other, but doesn't help much with removing the skin.

Some people swear by vigorously shaking the skinned cloves around in a covered bowl or jarred lid, which can be surprisingly effective. Some smash the clove with the flat side of a knife to loosen it and then pull it off. Others utilize a rubber roller to de-skin the cloves.

But none of these methods come close to the satisfaction of watching someone perfectly peeling an entire head of garlic with a pair of tongs.

Keep ReadingShow less
Modern Families

‘Hard pill to swallow’: Mom shares why some adult children don’t talk to their parents

"How your kids treat you when they are no longer in need of food and shelter, is a direct reflection of how you made them feel when they needed you to survive."

Parent and child deal with the pain of estrangement.

Even though humans are biologically hard-wired to form strong attachments to our parents, in many cases, these relationships become estranged as the children age. A recent poll found that nearly 1 in 4 adults are estranged from their families.

Six percent are estranged from their mothers and 26% have no contact with their fathers. It’s believed that these days, more children are comfortable distancing themselves from their parents because it’s good for their mental health.

“I think it relates to this new desire to have healthy relationships,” Rin Reczek, a sociology professor at the Ohio State University, said, according to The Hill. “There might be some cultural shifts around people being allowed to choose who is in your family. And that can include not choosing to have the person who raised you be in your family.”

Keep ReadingShow less
Pop Culture

Loretta Lynn's granddaughter wows 'American Idol' judges with raw original song

Emmy Russell's original song "Skinny," featuring lyrics about body image and eating disorders, nearly brought everyone to tears.

America Idol/Youtube, Promotional image of Loretta Lynn/Wikipedia

Emmy Russell (left) and her grandmother Loretta Lynn (right)

Emmy Russell, granddaughter of country music icon Loretta Lynn, proved that she was an artist in her own right during a recent episode of “American Idol.”

The 24-year-old singer-songwriter from Nashville auditioned in front of judges Lionel Richie, Katy Perry and Luke Bryan during the show's Feb. 25 episode, during which she opened up about wanting to not live in her grandmother’s shadow.

"She's one of the biggest country music singers of all time, but to me she's just Grandma," she said, adding "I think I am a little timid, and I think it is because I want to own my voice. That's why I want to challenge myself and come out here."

Keep ReadingShow less