My German Shepherd Kota Has Already Saved My Life

by Deb Phillips
(Marysville, CA)

My Kota is a female 4 year old long-coated GSD. I acquired her about 1 ½ years ago. Kota is a Mobility and Psychiatric Service Dog.

I trained her mostly myself and with the help of a professional when needed.

I suffered from severe suicidal tendencies, SI, and chronic depression. Within 2 months of having Kota, all of these issues were completely removed from my life.

I also suffer from PTSD, agoraphobia, severe social phobia, panic disorder, dissociation, night terrors, nightmares, migraines and other MI issues.

Because of our close bond, Kota began to alert on these things. Using positive reinforcement, I shaped her alerts into behaviors that could be given in public, along with the response that mitigates the problem.

With Kota at my side 24/7, I can leave my house, go shopping or anywhere normal people do. Kota alerts on my mental health issues and then is trained to mitigate them so that they are greatly lessened or even completely averted.

Kota knows how to find the door in any store or building to lead me out to a safe place when I’m getting panicky or feeling too overwhelmed. She keeps me grounded in reality.

Thanks to Kota, I can do just about anything you can do! She has already saved my life. Kota is my life and I would anything for her. She is my heart-dog. Without her I simply would not be alive.

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Oct 09, 2010
by: Deb & Kota

Thank you to all the people who wrote such nice things about Kota & I. Kota is the hero - without her I would be a nothing, locked away in my house.
Now I have the freedom to get out and make friends. And now I have the courage to use my computer to reach out and have made good friendships that I will always treasure!

For anyone interested in joining a group that supports people with psychiatric issues and has a Service Dog or wants to get one, go to this site: There is a list for Women Vets only, Veterans only, and the main list for anyone. You can ask to join any or all of the list servs if you qualify.

We talk about training our dogs, give each other training tips, help the "newbies", discuss gear and sometimes we vent about our MI. Go to the site and look around and see if it's something you'd like to participate in - you don't have to have a dog. We'll give you tips about finding one.

Jul 20, 2010
Bless your heart/Kota & Deb
by: Deborah

My husband is a USMC retiree/vet and I have some physical disabilities, we get where you are coming from. Your choice of a GSD to help you live your life was perfect. Kota will die loving you more than anything in the world. She will be the most loyal and understanding friend you will ever have, and you deserve the life she is helping you to have. Bless you and your Kota, and thank you for your service!

Jul 20, 2010
Good on you!
by: Angie&GIJOE

I love how you articulated your story and shared the honesty and realness with us. It's so easy to lock yourself away and suffer, but you chose the best option of all. The unconditional love of a dog (a GSD) and help him help you recover.

I am so proud to call you a fellow PSDS friend and enjoy reading all your posts!

Jul 19, 2010
the rest of the story
by: auntypsychotic

i am priviledged and very lucky to call deb and kota my friends. what she was too modest to tell you is that she is part of an international community of people who utilize psychiatric service dogs (PSD's). deb and kota are truly stellar ambassadors for those of us with mental illness who are trying to recover some of what our illnesses have taken from us. through the magic of the internet i, and many others, have the benefit of their knowledge, compassion and support all of which are boundless.

like myself, deb is a disabled veteran who has served her country with valor and honor. she and kota are part of the vanguard that is striving to educate and support our returning warriors about PSD's and enable them to benefit from "dog medicine" at the earliest stage possible so that they do not lose themselves or lives to the horrors of war and mental illness. i am grateful to her and honored that she and kota are my friends.

Jul 19, 2010
Dog medicine
by: Anonymous

Blessings on you and Kota. Thank you for sharing how a service dog can help people with psychiatric disorders function out in the world and enjoy our lives.

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