Psychiatric service dog tasks vary to mitigate specific disability needs. Here are a few examples:

Deep Pressure Therapy 
Prevent or recover from panic attacks.

Tactile Stimulation 
Licking or pawing can ground handler in extreme distress.

Creates more space for their handler.

Interruption of Self Harming
Licking, pawing, or barking.

Guide Work and Mobility
Helps with disassociating, during panic attacks, and when disoriented.

A Psychiatric Service Dog is specifically trained to assist their handler with a disability as defined by the ADA such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), schizophrenia, depression, anxiety, ​or​ bipolar disorder. An exceptional psychiatric service dog is individually trained to do work and perform tasks that mitigate their handler’s disability.

The Exceptional Sidekick (TESSD) provides psychiatric service dogs to support disabled teens and young adults, empowering young handlers to complete their education and live independently.
  • You must be in therapy for a minimum of one year and believe a service dog could drastically improve your life, 
  • You must be between the ages of 12-22, 
  • You must be able to easily travel to Newtown, CT multiple times a week for up to a year of training, 

A service dog is an essential part of a larger medical plan for individuals with disabilities and medical conditions. The cost of our dogs reflects the extensive training, care, and support that goes into maintaining their health and well-being. 
Studies have found that psychiatric service dogs can reduce symptoms of PTSD by up to 89% in individuals.
(source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4387693/)
We believe that every young person deserves the chance to live a fulfilling life, and our service dogs can make that happen. 
TESSD is a small non-profit organization with far too many applications each week. We do our very best to respond to all applications, but due to limited resources, it may not be possible to reply to every inquiry. If your application does not appear to be a good fit for a service dog, we will let you know as soon as possible. You will be notified the minute a dog becomes available and, according to your application, could be a good fit. Our dogs are placed with the person that is the best match and has the strongest possibility of success in becoming a sidekick team.
Unfortunately, the wait for a trained program psychiatric service dog varies; it could be within a year or we may never have a dog that fits your specific needs. We do open up our waitlist as often as possible, but please understand, it takes up to two years to complete a puppy’s training, making it very difficult to determine how long you will wait once you are approved.
If you are in desperate need of a service animal, we encourage you to reach out to as many organizations accredited by Assistance Dogs International as possible. We urge you to be very cautious and do your research for each organization, there are many selling service dogs that are aggressive, untrained, and they offer no follow up support.

The Exceptional Sidekick does not train balance dogs, seizure alert dogs, or guide dogs for the blind. We are only accepting applications for Psychiatric Service Dogs at this time. Once those needs are met we will accept applications for other disabilities.

community service dogs at the zoo