Patrick Stebbing


“How can I make my dog a service dog?” a woman asks me. I don’t know her; I’ve never met her before. But I came here to pick up my medications from the pharmacy, and my service dog in training caught her attention.

I know what I’m going to say; she isn’t the first person to ask, and she won’t be the last. “Well, it depends on what kind of service dog your dog would become. What disabilities would your dog be trained to help you with?”

“I’m sure I can think of something,” she says, and I’m thinking of something, too.

I’m thinking of ten years of emotional abuse; I’m thinking of the way my grandmother laughed when I would cry, the way I felt when she said I was selfish, the way she would berate me for locking any door in the house because “What if I can’t get to you? What if I need help?” the way I would hide myself in the bathroom, taking long baths to try to avoid her, only for her to open the bathroom door and take away what little personal space I tried to make for myself.

I’m thinking of pitying looks on the faces of teachers as I walked by, the way they would whisper about “that poor Stebbing girl, her mother was such a nice lady,” the older kids looking at the kindergartner who lost their mom to cancer. I’m thinking of panicked teachers and a panicked principal taking a now second grader to the priest, because that second grader started sobbing in the library when the class was making Mother’s Day cards.

Patrick Stebbing is a college student studying psychology and American Sign Language (ASL). As a mentally ill person, a nonbinary and queer person, a biracial person, and a person with “invisible disabilities,” They hope to bring not just awareness, but acceptance to minority communities of all kinds.