a woman walks a dog in a garden full of blooming flowers and butterflies

Considerations for Getting a (Support) Dog

Last updated: March 2023

I am planning on applying for an Emotional Support Dog to help me with my various anxieties and my PTSD. As I have never lived with a dog before, I have been doing a lot of thinking and planning before I even bother to apply for an Emotional Support Animal (ESA).1

Considering the lifestyle changes that come with having a dog

Of course, living with my multiple conditions — including restless legs syndrome (RLS) —, I am worried about the dramatic changes a dog will bring to my life. I suddenly will be a lot more active than I currently am, and with that comes worries about what that will do and the risk of potentially triggering flare-ups of my diseases. Sure, my husband will be able to help with some stuff, but he works a full-time job that isn’t a work-from-home job like mine.

I’m trying to think positively, so I want to focus on the potential benefits to my health of having an Emotional Support Dog. I imagine that going out for a walk twice a day will be beneficial for my RLS. It may be a bit rough at first, but my body and hopefully my RLS will get used to it. I also imagine that there will be an overall benefit of being active, losing weight brought on by medications, and being in shape.

My prior experience with caring for a dog

I do have a little bit of previous experience caring for a dog short-term. My mother-in-law had a highly intelligent English Setter when my husband and I first started dating 12 years ago. My husband was living with his mom to help her out, as she lived with multiple sclerosis (MS).

There were times when my hubby and I would go for a walk or a mini hike with his mom’s dog and many times I visited their house. Two years later, we were asked to watch the dog while my mom-in-law was out of town for 3 weeks, and at the last moment, my husband was asked to help my dad professionally fight forest fires. Suddenly, it was just me watching the doggie, and I was quite worried about how I would hold up.

To my amazement, it went very well, and I hardly had any issues at all. I was easily able to do 2 walks a day and sometimes 3. I had the energy to care for the dog and very much enjoyed the time we had together. My RLS didn’t give me any issues at all, and I wasn’t even being treated for my RLS at that point. I was able to manage just fine with medical marijuana (legal in Canada).

Will an increase in activity benefit my RLS?

I’ve also seen videos and heard personal testimony that having a dog helped the person become more active. That’s why I’m hoping that the same will be true for me, that caring for a dog will help me be more active.

I hope that I’ll be able to reach a level of activity that is beneficial to me, with improvements to my other conditions as well — especially RLS.

Do you have a doggie, and if so, do you find it has overall benefits for your RLS? Share with us in the comments below!

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