This Woman Ate With Her Dog Every Day For 2 Weeks, And Even She Was Surprised By The Results

May 30, 2019

One of the best parts of going on vacation and traveling the world is meeting a bunch of cool people… unless, of course, you’re an introvert who struggles with anxiety. In a delightful piece she wrote for Delish, freelance writer Courtney Iseman explains that she often finds talking to strangers difficult, and that she feels like this makes her come across as rude. But Courtney accidentally found a surprising fix when she took her adorable pug Darby on vacation.

Most of the time when Courtney eats out, Darby has to stay behind. Courtney and Darby live in New York, where dogs are only allowed in outdoor dining areas. This excludes service animals: the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) gives people with disabilities the right to take their animal with them into a restaurant (although the restaurant doesn’t have to allow the animal to sit or be fed at the table.) Only 10 states currently have laws that permit businesses in some cities to allow non-service dogs onto outdoor areas, and they each come with certain restrictions. For example, in Maryland, restaurant owners can limit the size and breed of dog allowed on their property.

Being a responsible dog owner, when Courtney decided that she wanted to take Darby on vacation, she planned her trip specifically to include places where her pet would be welcome.

Here’s a cute picture of the pair from Courtney’s Instagram:

Cheers!

Before they’d even started packing, Courtney carefully researched dog-friendly restaurants in the Southwest.

She also asked her therapist to give her a letter confirming that she struggles with anxiety, and that Darby was acting as her emotional support animal (ESA). There is no national registry of ESAs, so a letter from a mental health provider is often required to prove that you really do need them.

Not only does this acknowledge the crucial role Darby played in helping with Courtney’s anxiety, it meant Darby could fly with Courtney. (If you also have an ESA, make sure you check your airline’s rules before you travel, as they may require you to bring certain documents to prove that they are a support animal.)

An emotional support animal is different from a service animal.

According to the ADA, a service animal (usually a dog or miniature horse) has been trained to do work or perform tasks that specifically relate to a disability. An emotional support animal provides comfort, but is not required to have any special training. Neither type of animal is required to have a harness or ID identifying their role. However, you’ll often see service animals with harnesses, because as much as many of us love to cuddle every dog we see, they’re doing important work for their human and shouldn’t be disturbed.

With Darby onboard, Courtney explored the Southwest.

And to her surprise, she found that having a cute little pug traveling with her helped her open up to strangers in a way she hadn’t been able to before. Not only did Darby’s presence help Courtney relax, but a dog is a natural conversation starter. She says that each positive interaction reminded her how fun chatting to new people can be, and opened her up to do it again.

Emotional support animals can play a really important role in our lives.

Courtney isn’t the only one who’s found that having a canine companion has improved her life.

People rely on their dogs for all kinds of support.

You can be young or old:

ESA owners are super grateful to their pets.

Dog owners know that whatever you’re going through, your dog will always be there for you.

Cuddling a dog may be our favorite medicine.

It’s not just dogs, of course.

Shout out to cat lovers, too!

Sadly, there are haters who don’t get it.

The naughty ones give the good boys (and girls) a bad reputation.

PSA: If you have an ESA, make sure they’re well-behaved. Don’t make life harder for other owners, and especially people with service dogs.

We’re so happy to hear that Darby and Courtney enjoyed their life-changing vacation.

Follow their future adventures on Courtney’s Instagram:

Bon voyage!