Connect with others who understand.

sign up log in
Resources
About myRAteam

How My Service Dog Has Changed My Life With RA

Posted on November 29, 2021
Article written by
Randi B. Likely

After being diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) at 16, I went through a lot of challenges in learning how to cope with the symptoms that came with the condition. But one way I’ve found to help ease those issues was to get my service dog, Bear. In fact, my biggest regret in my life with RA is that I didn’t get a service dog sooner.

Randi's service dog, Bear, is always ready to jump into action when she needs assistance. (Randi B. Likely)

When you picture a service dog, you might be thinking of a German shepherd or another large breed, but Bear weighs just 12 pounds. Even at that tiny size, he understands all of my needs and reacts quickly whenever it’s time for him to jump into action.

If I need my medications, all I have to do is say the word. He’ll find the bag no matter where I left it in the house, and he’ll bring it back to me. He can also tell when I’m in pain because he has learned the cues.

For instance, I have a habit of crouching over when I’m in pain, and I know that if my hips or knees are hurting, I should just sit down, even on the floor, until I feel better — but a lot of times, I just don’t take the time to sit. So if Bear sees me crouching over, he’ll alert me to say, “Hey, you’re going to sit down,” and I do it.

Bear can also sense when I’m feeling anxious. When I get stressed, I tend to shake my leg and I don’t even notice it, but he does. When he sees me doing that, he’ll pat me and indicate that it’s time to take a moment to stop what I’m doing and take a breath. This is important, because when I’m stressed, I can experience flares, so having him remind me to release the stress is very beneficial to my RA.

I highly recommend a service dog if you have the capacity for adding a new furry friend to your life — and it doesn’t have to break the bank. I trained Bear myself to save money, and it’s worked out beautifully.

My Perspective articles discuss rheumatoid arthritis from a specific point of view. My Perspective articles don’t reflect the opinions of myRAteam staff, medical experts, partners, advertisers, or sponsors. Content on myRAteam isn't intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

All updates must be accompanied by text or a picture.
Randi B. Likely was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis at age 16. Learn more about her here.

Related articles

After I first started experiencing rheumatoid arthritis (RA) symptoms, I saw a series of health...

Why You Should Be Your Own RA Advocate

After I first started experiencing rheumatoid arthritis (RA) symptoms, I saw a series of health...
Living with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) can mean that some days go perfectly and others present...

3 Strategies That Help Me Manage My RA Symptoms

Living with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) can mean that some days go perfectly and others present...
While we all know the multiple things that rheumatoid arthritis (RA) takes from us and the bad...

My Perspective: What Has Rheumatoid Arthritis Given Me?

While we all know the multiple things that rheumatoid arthritis (RA) takes from us and the bad...
During the #ChronicLife experiment, in which I live tweeted for 48 hours, I announced that my...

Admitting the Inevitable: When Medications No Longer Work

During the #ChronicLife experiment, in which I live tweeted for 48 hours, I announced that my...

Recent articles

Some people living with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) wonder whether they should wear medical alert...

Medical Alert Bracelets and RA: Do You Need Alert Jewelry?

Some people living with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) wonder whether they should wear medical alert...
Some people with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) choose to limit or eliminate certain foods from their...

3 Reasons To Avoid Sugar If You Have Rheumatoid Arthritis

Some people with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) choose to limit or eliminate certain foods from their...
For people living with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), joint pain can be a common aspect of day-to-day...

Collarbone Pain and RA: What It Feels Like and Tips for Managing

For people living with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), joint pain can be a common aspect of day-to-day...
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) can become a financial burden with expensive treatments and medical...

Nonprofit Resources for Affording Rheumatoid Arthritis Treatment

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) can become a financial burden with expensive treatments and medical...
If you have rheumatoid arthritis (RA), you may have heard about kratom — an herbal supplement...

Kratom for Rheumatoid Arthritis: Is It Safe and Can It Help?

If you have rheumatoid arthritis (RA), you may have heard about kratom — an herbal supplement...
When most people think of rheumatoid arthritis (RA), they imagine joint pain affecting the wrists...

Can Rheumatoid Arthritis Cause Tailbone Pain?

When most people think of rheumatoid arthritis (RA), they imagine joint pain affecting the wrists...
myRAteam My rheumatoid arthritis Team

Thank you for subscribing!

Become a member to get even more:

sign up for free

close