Service animals assist members of Portland community


Sagarika Ramachandran

Maddy Tubbs is supported by her service dog, Bailey, who accompanies her to her classes at Lincoln.

Without their service companions by their sides, Lincoln freshmen and middle school basketball coach Brandon Finstad, student Maddy Tubbs, and grandmother Susan Hanks’ lives would be much more difficult.

Finstad, Tubbs, and Hanks all have service dogs, but they use them for different reasons, including reducing anxiety, picking up objects, and medical assistance.

Service animals are defined by Portland Public Schools as “dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities.”

There are five main types of service animals; Hearing dogs, guide dogs, psychiatric service animals, seizure alert animals, and allergen alert animals.

PPS also specifies that service miniature horses may be permitted in schools, but the restrictions are very specific.

Tubbs started to be accompanied by her service dog, Bailey, an English Golden Retriever, last year. Bailey is a psychiatric service dog who was trained at a boarding program, Golden Meadows, and helps Tubbs with everyday stress and anxiety.

“He does this thing called ‘deep-pressure therapy,’ which is where he lays on me, he has his head around [my left shoulder] and [my upper chest], which hits pressure points that relax me,” said Tubbs.

Bailey creates space in the hallways to help Tubbs deal with the sea of bustling high schoolers. He can also wakes Tubbs up in the morning and improve her focus in class.

”He’s been a real big help lately,” said Tubbs.

Finstad has had his service dog, Candy, a yellow lab, for over five years. She accompanies Finstad with a pink leash either in the hallways or in the gym at basketball games. Candy is a medical assistance dog that would help Finstad if he is either having serious heart problems or needs medical help.

“Candy is such an amazing dog,” Finstad said. “She gets along with the 6th graders when I coach them and even gets along with all the high school players.”

Hanks, the grandmother of a Lincoln student, has a support dog named Samantha. Samantha helps Hanks reach things on the floor due to her back problems. She also helps Hanks keep her balance, especially when attending choir at her church.

“[Samantha] goes around and makes friends with everybody,” Hanks said.

Bailey, Candy, and Samantha are all rigorously trained service dogs that perform different specific tasks. They are not pets, but rather helpful companions.