Snohomish woman hoping to raise money to help get a service dog
SNOHOMISH — Cami Ware doesn’t leave the
house alone. She’s plagued by invisible but debilitating illnesses that she hopes a psychiatric service dog will help her combat once she can raise enough for the expensive adoption.
Ware said she has been treated for mental illnesses since she was 15, but therapy and medication are not enough for her to function in public. She was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Ware’s love of painting drew her to the art program at Utah Valley University near Provo, Utah, but she ultimately withdrew as her mental illness became crippling.
“She was a victim of a violent crime” by somebody “we all trusted and knew, from there it went all downhill,” said her mother, Stacy Ware.
“Over the two years I was there my anxiety just steadily increased. It became harder and harder to go to class. I would have panic attacks. If
I was able to get myself out of the house and drive myself to school, I’d just sit and cry in the parking lot because I just couldn’t get myself out of the car,” Cami Ware said.
Ware returned home to her parents and the quiet life in Snohomish, where the flowers and mountains inspire her to create oil paintings. But she longs for a less restricted life.
Ware had seen service dogs at college but had no idea there were psychiatric service dogs until a chance conversation with a friend.
She found Little Angels Service Dogs, a California nonprofit, which offers the psychiatric service dogs, but their breeding, care and specialized training costs $28,000.
The dogs, often Labrador Retrievers, require months to learn and perfect each specialized skill. A trained psychiatric service dog will create a boundary between its owner and crowds in public. The canines will also help owners refocus if they begin to experience a flashback or panic attack, so the experience is not so disabling. They even do paws-on therapy by resting their body weight against their owner’s lap and abdomen. The pressure is calming, much like a medical wrap, according to Little Angels.
“She has nightmares even two to three times a night. The dog is trained to recognize that, and that he will actually recognize that and help soothe her heart is amazing,” Stacy Ware said.
Ware and her family paired with Red Basket, an online fundraising nonprofit, and have until March 24 to complete their first round of funding.
Stacy Ware remembers her daughter as “full of life and capable and able to do things.” They are both hopeful that with a little help from a new canine partner, Cami Ware will get a chance to be fully herself again.
Anyone who wants to help or learn more can go to www.redbasket.org/1590
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