Meet Ashley Hibbard and her service dog in training Trevor, an 18 month old golden retriever. Ashley is a student at Pasco Hernando State College (PHSC). She and Trevor attend PHSC together. Trevor accompanies Ashley to her math class twice a week. Trevor has had about a year of service dog training. First he was trained the basics by a professional trainer. Currently Ashley is training Trevor on various tasks to complete.
Ashley explains, “Now he is learning to do something called tasks. Which are skills that he acquires that help mitigate my disability. For example, he can close doors, hold objects, and do deep pressure therapy. Deep pressure therapy is putting pressure on my pressure points. It takes 2 years of hard work and training for him to be labeled a Service Dog. He has completed a year of his training so far.”
Ashley will be going away to college and her parents were concerned that she shouldn’t go by herself due to her medical condition which began to worsen about two years ago. Ashley has Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS) which affects circulation. She often feels dizzy upon standing with her heart racing to 40 beats per minute above average. A side effect of her condition is small fiber neuropathy which can be quite painful. Ashley’s doctor recommended she look into getting a service dog to accompany her to college and help mitigate her symptoms.
Trevor is trained to lie across Ashley’s legs when she is experiencing a medical episode. His heat and weight alleviates her symptoms and keeps her coherent.
Ashley is in her last year of her AA degree at PHSC. She hopes to attend USF or UCF majoring in psychology with a minor in criminology. Her goal is to become a forensic psychologist. With Trevor’s help, this goal will become a reality.
Even though Trevor is a service dog, Ashley says that she makes sure he has time to just be a dog. Swimming is one of his favorite activities. She related that the tasks he fulfills for her are also fun for him. She explained that the first time he successfully hit the handicap door button, he gave her a ‘golden smile.’
Ashley will graduate from PHSC in December with Trevor beside her.