Has anyone seen students that have dogs living with them in the dorms? Well, so have we and we decided to get to know a service dog here on campus this week.

There are many different types of service animals, and SJU student Kerry Dowd has an emotional support animal, Nutmeg the poodle. An ESA is not trained to be a service animal, but Nutmeg still falls under the umbrella of very helpful dogos. Service animals go through rigorous training and are usually the ones you see with the special vests on, but Nutmeg is just around to help Kerry through hard times and provide emotional aid, support, and reassurance.

Kerry got their ESA in the summer of 2017 after their therapist brought up the idea.

“Nutmeg is there to keep me responsible and to be sure that I would not do reckless things. I was lucky and found the perfect dog at Pennsylvania SPCA”.

Kerry says the biggest difficulty with having an ESA instead of a trained service dog is that they cannot bring her everywhere. Almost any store, restaurant, or public space allows service animals, but Nutmeg has not gone through that training and is not allowed the same privileges as a service animal.

Saint Joe’s was very understanding though, and Kerry said it was very easy to get their ESA on campus.

“After discussing with my mental health team, my psychiatrist wrote a letter that I required an ESA. After filling out some paperwork with the Office of Disabilities I was able to bring her to campus”.

Kerry says the weirdest typical question they get about their ESA is if Nutmeg actually lives with them (yes, duh!).

An ESA may not be trained as a service animal, but the comfort and support an ESA is able to provide is a service well done. Nutmeg has changed Kerry’s life forever and helps them live every day to the fullest.

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