Brian Foster

from shelter life to service life: service dog maggie

Brian Foster
from shelter life to service life: service dog maggie

“Admitting you need help” is the beginning step to multiple types of recovery, whether it be mental or physical. For Andrew Bowden, this was his first step towards getting a service dog. After various recommendations from many doctors, Andrew and his family took a trip to Saint Francis Humane Society in Georgetown to begin the process. When looking at a family of labs, Andrew chose Maggie, a black lab, due to her calm and reserved nature.

After adopting Maggie, Andrew wanted to immediately get her trained to become the perfect service dog. He hired Rocky Road K9 out of Conway in order to assist in this process. After her training, “We have been attached at the hip ever since,” Andrew stated, quite literally and metaphorically. Rocky Road K9 even still assists Andrew to this day if he needs to work on more training with Maggie.

Through Maggie’s intense training, she has become quite the versatile service dog. Not only does she help with mental issues such as PTSD, anxiety, and depression, she also helps with seizures. When Maggie alerts Andrew for any of these problems, he is able to find a place to recover before anything becomes too uncontrollable. Andrew’s wife even went so far as to say that Maggie “saves his life everyday.”

Having a service dog sounds like the ideal situation to most; everyone would love to be able to take their dog everywhere they go. However, according to Andrew life hasn’t always been so easy with Maggie. He attributes this partly to Black Dog Syndrome, or the idea that darker dogs are more feared and therefore less likely to get adopted. Since dogs are so protective of their owners, Andrew believes that many, including other dogs, fear Maggie and assume she will be aggressive because of the color of her fur. For example, Andrew told me, “we’ve had people not want to ride the elevators with us out of fear. I attribute these responses to the quiet shadow standing next to me with her dark eyes.”

 Even Andrew himself was initially more drawn to Maggie’s yellow lab sister at Saint Francis Humane Society.
However, when looking back on this Andrew cannot believe he looked past Maggie when they first met. “The reality is I couldn’t have found a dog sweeter than Maggie,” he stated and couldn’t wish for a better service dog. He ended our conversation with this advice:
  “Always remember to never distract a service dog because they are working and their handler could end up hurt if the dog misses an alert.”