Heidi Cullinan Guest Post: Service Dogs

Gay Book Reviews is thrilled to have Heidi Cullinan with us today talking about one of my favorite subjects, DOGS!

Service Dogs, Therapy Dogs, and Emotional Support Animals

In Shelter the Sea, one of the characters acquires a service dog during the course of the novel, and in researching for the book, one of the most interesting things I learned was that the terms service dog, therapy dog, and emotional support dog are not interchangeable, that each animal does a slightly different job and has a distinctly different classification.

Service dogs are specifically trained to assist one person, and their primary function isn’t to provide companionship or emotional support, though the individual they care for often forms a tight bond with the dog and vice versa. They’re required (and trained to) tolerate a wide variety of experiences, environments, and people. They’re also covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act, meaning their owners have a right to bring them into public establishments, and they may live with their owners even if the building has a “no pets” policy.

Therapy dogs can also tolerate a wide variety of experiences and environments, but they aren’t trained to support just one person, meaning they aren’t tailored specifically for them. They’re trained to assist generally, helping multiple people. They aren’t covered by the ADA, as they aren’t designed for individuals, only for specific spaces and instances where there would be no conflict for their use.

Emotional support animals, which can include dogs but don’t always necessarily only include them, are mostly there to provide, as the name suggests, emotional support. They aren’t covered by the ADA, as the ADA has ruled their work isn’t directly related to their disability and they’re not specifically trained for that individual, and therefore they can’t necessarily go everywhere. They are, however, sometimes allowed in places with “no pets” policies.

You can read more about the rules about service, therapy, and emotional support animals on the ADA website.

Thank you Heidi! And here is a bit about my own therapy dog, Myrtle and husband’s drug dog, Nikki.

Once again, I am compelled to share a personal dog story, like I did when reviewing How to Walk Like a Man. I have a therapy dog too! Her name is Myrtle and she is a R.E.A.D. dog (Reading Assistance Therapy Dog). She and I visit schools, camps and libraries and I sit quietly next to her as she lays her head in the laps of children who read to her. It helps ease a child’s anxiety while reading out-loud and they are more likely to experiment with sounding out words, or skipping them completely if they want, because Myrtle doesn’t judge. She just laps up the attention and provides a calming presence to the child. She was certified when she was 3 and she just had her 9th birthday, so she’s been a working girl for 8 years now. She is one of the great joys in my life and seeing kids love on her is priceless.

My husband is a K9 handler and just as dog-crazy as I am. He is pictured below with his Belgian Malinois K9 Nikki who lived a long and healthy 16 years. In her illustrious 11 year career, she seized thousands of pounds of illegal drugs and over $1 million in cash. She will always be in our heart.

Title: Shelter the Sea (The Roosevelt #2)
Author: Heidi Cullinan
Publisher: Self Published
Release Date: April 18th 2017
Genre(s): M/M Contemporary
Page Count: 190 pages
Reviewed by: Belen


Some heroes wear capes. Some prefer sensory sacks.

Emmet Washington has never let the world define him, even though he, his boyfriend, Jeremey, and his friends aren’t considered “real” adults because of their disabilities. When the State of Iowa restructures its mental health system and puts the independent living facility where they live in jeopardy, Emmet refuses to be forced into substandard, privatized corporate care. With the help of Jeremey and their friends, he starts a local grassroots organization and fights every step of the way.

In addition to navigating his boyfriend’s increased depression and anxiety, Emmet has to make his autistic tics acceptable to politicians and donors, and he wonders if they’re raising awareness or putting their disabilities on display. When their campaign attracts the attention of the opposition’s powerful corporate lobbyist, Emmet relies on his skill with calculations and predictions and trusts he can save the day—for himself, his friends, and everyone with disabilities.

He only hopes there isn’t a variable in his formula he’s failed to foresee.

The Roosevelt Series

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Author Bio

heidi photo
Heidi Cullinan has always enjoyed a good love story, provided it has a happy ending. Proud to be from the first Midwestern state with full marriage equality, Heidi is a vocal advocate for LGBT rights. She writes positive-outcome romances for LGBT characters struggling against insurmountable odds because she believes there’s no such thing as too much happy ever after. When Heidi isn’t writing, she enjoys cooking, reading, playing with her cats, and watching television with her family.

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More from Heidi Cullian

Minnesota Christmas Series

Special Delivery Series

Love Lessons Series

1 comment

  • What a great and interesting topic about the dogs. Such beautiful animals!
    Congratulations and much success.


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