April 27th, 2016 ~ Vol. 85 No. 17
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Community support needed for local woman and her dog
Crowsnest Pass Herald Front Page
ALEXIS BOHMER
Herald Contributor
I’m Alexis. I am a very lively person- and have been very involved in my hometown of the Crowsnest Pass in terms of leadership and advocacy for youth. I now am attending the University of Lethbridge to become a teacher. Working full time at the Boys & Girls Club of the Crowsnest Pass taught me that the classroom is my home away from home and the kids are my second family.

I come from a family of four younger siblings and my mom is an LPN at the local clinic in the Crowsnest Pass. My step dad lives in the Crowsnest Pass as well, and my dad lives in Prince George BC with his wife and 3 children.

I am very proud of the community that I come from and especially proud of myself knowing the lives of little ones that I’ve touched with my work there. Behind all the hard work- I myself have been dealing with mental illness since I can first remember.

I have suffered from severe anxiety and panic attacks since I was young- and it got very hard to manage in my teen years. Depression came into the mix when I began high school- making things even more challenging. I had an attempt to take my own life in 2015- for which I was hospitalized. Since moving to Lethbridge and going to school I was assaulted- bringing on PTSD and agoraphobia. I had another attempt in 2016- for which I was again hospitalized. As of right now, attending classes alone is near impossible for me. Academics are so important to me- so this is truly devastating. I had accommodations set up so I had a scribe in each class and then kept up with the work on my own time. I cannot go to the grocery store alone. The only places I feel safe are my house, my car, and my job at State & Main (where I have a great support system and many amazing friends). I always need a “safe person” to come with me to do things- and this has been straining on not only my wellbeing but also those around me. I love running & hiking- those things have stopped because of my illnesses. I am normally a very social person- now I am the opposite. I am ready to come back to Alexis- and feel more myself again. I didn’t think that was possible until now.
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Here’s the brighter end of the story- I have been approved for a training program called “Assistance Dogs For All” http://www.assistancedogs4all.org/

out of Ontario where they will coach me in training my own psychiatric service dog. Here are some of the many things my dog will be able to do:

- Tactile stimulation to disrupt emotional overload
- Break the spell and/or combat sedative effects
- Wake partner for work or school
- Provide deep pressure therapy for calming effect
- Interrupt self- harm episodes
- Crowd control, panic prevention in public
- Arouse from fear paralysis or disassociation spell
- Prevent or combat emotional overload
- Get partner out of an upsetting situation
- Assist partner to leave an area by finding an exit
- Reducing hyper-vigilance
- Keep strangers away
- Increase safety in public- eg. "room checks"to combat PTSD
- Provide a reality check
- Strategies with phone
- Call for help in advance
- Lighting up dark rooms
- Assist with escape strategies

And so many more things tailored to my needs.

For more info, check http://servicedog.ca/about-us/faq, http://www.servicedogcentral.org/content/node/77, or http://www.iaadp.org/psd_tasks.html

I have put a deposit down on a Shepard cross puppy- who is absolutely adorable and will be ready for me to take home in May. This opportunity gives me hope for my future. “I will be able to go to the grocery store by myself- not being afraid or feeling unsafe” is literally the thought that brings tears to my eyes. Not only will I feel more safe- but my family & friends will be more confident regarding my safety. This dog is granting me a new life- a whole new set of experiences and adventures that I never thought would be possible for someone like me.
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I need the help of my community to make this dream of mine a reality. With a large family and myself living off of student loans there is not a lot of extra money floating around for the training- which starts at $1200 to secure my spot and then $50/week until my dog is trained to do all the tasks I may need (6-8 months). Then the video to be accredited by the government so that we can receive our official ID tags costs an additional $350. The dog himself costs $550. There is the cost of vet bills, dog food, and pet supplies as well. If you have any way of helping me (not necessarily just donations)- my family, friends & I would be so grateful. This is giving me an opportunity to live a full and happier life. I am still amazed by this dream- I can’t believe it might actually come true.

If there are people who have pet supplies for a medium sized dog, or who are willing to offer help with basic obedience training before I begin the service training that would be appreciated also! And even more important than money is support. Knowing I have a community of people behind me supporting me and my service dog, and opening the door for conversations about mental illness.

As of press time Alexis is $2405 towards her $6000 goal.

The Pass Herald is contributing $100 towards Alexis and her journey for a service dog. If you would like to donate outside of facebook you can mail a cheque to Alexis Bohmer, Box 102, Hillcrest Mines, AB. T0K 1C0.
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April 27th ~ Vol. 85 No. 17
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