A teenager from the East Coast of America brought her service dog to the high school prom with her, to help ward off the effect of debilitating panic attacks.
The girl, known as Claire, is almost always accompanied by her loyal four-legged friend Percie – and the biggest event of the year was no exception.
Percie has been specially trained to detect Claire’s cortisol levels, so she’s able to alert her before severe anxiety strikes. This means Claire is prepared and better able to handle them.
“A large part of my disability are anxiety-derived 'episodes,' which can best be described as panic attacks,” the Maryland teen tells The Dodo. “Percie can detect my cortisol levels and lets me know when an episode is about to happen.”
Percie was on alert throughout Claire’s special evening:
“She helped me during prom by alerting me several times, which she does by excessively pawing or nudging me with her nose,” she explains. “She performed 'blocks' or 'covers' by moving her body into positions that prevent people from getting too close while I recovered from less severe, short episodes.”
Claire’s Instagram account is devoted to the work that Percie performs day in, day out.
She wants to raise awareness of how service dogs can be used to alleviate “invisible illnesses” and provide support to people fighting similar conditions.
“I hope to educate the public about service dogs and invisible disabilities, but I also want to help others feel less alone and more valid in their battle,” she says. “I’m not weaker because of my disability or because I have a service dog, I’m actually a lot stronger.”