At 13, Elsie is still up for learning new things. Our most recent escapade is learning to walk on a leash. Right now, I'm putting it on her once or twice a day and letting her walk around with it behind her. She's getting used to how it feels.
So, you know by now that Elsie and I are very close. She likes to sit either beside me on my desk (if I'm in the family room) or behind me on the couch (if I'm in the living room) while I type. But what you might not know is that I've trained her to help me out in very specific ways. First, she comes at the drop of a hat to a clicker. Well, unless she's eating. The clicker means "food" to her, and if she's already eating, she doesn't care about treats. And yes, she's a pig and eats a lot, but far from most of the time, so she usually comes when I ask her to. The other thing she does is comes when I cry and makes physical contact. Sometimes she walks under my hand so that I'm forced to pet her. It's like, "Come on, pet me. You'll feel better." She also talks a lot, which although I didn't train her to do it, it helps me to find my words again when I lose them. It's a big help.
Does this sound like it's going somewhere to you? By definition, Elsie is a service cat. She has been trained to do specific tasks that help to mitigate my disability. Up until now, this hasn't really mattered. But it's about to matter a lot.
The group home I want to move to doesn't allow cats. But the question is, would they allow a service animal? Don't they have to? My case manager is finding out.
In the meantime, he wants me to do two things. First, get Elsie certified. I'm going to use the Service Animal Registry of America to get her her own little card that has her information on it. A service animal doesn't technically have to be registered, but it helps to make her more official and people recognize that. Second, he wants me to get my doctor to write a letter that says that I need my cat to function and for health. She quickly agreed to do that for me. Glad that went well.
So, you can add Elsie to the list of very special, hardworking service animals. She's proud to be on it.
I might be 1 in 91, but this cat of mine is truly one in a million!