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Help comes in small form

Imagine living with a disability that can turn your world upside down without much warning. That's the reality for a local teenager. But, sometimes help comes in small form.

Posted: Mar 5, 2018 6:34 PM

BRAZIL, Ind. (WTHI)- Imagine living with a disability that can turn your world upside down without much warning. That's the reality for a local teenager. But, sometimes help comes in small form. 

Gabby Knauer says she leaned on medications for her daily anxiety attacks.

"It doesn't have a trigger," Knauer said. "It just happens in the middle of nowhere."

Knauer was born with high cortisol levels. She has a hidden disability that can make her feel weak, tired and dizzy in a matter of seconds.

At times, she says she felt hopeless. 

"It can be rough," Knauer said. 

That is until she met Muffin; her four-legged, furry friend that stands about one foot tall. 

"I rely solely on her," she said. 

In 2015, Knauer adopted Muffin. The “Chiweenie” (a Chihuahua and Dachshund mix) proved to be a quick learner. 

"She actually had kind of a natural ability to know," Knauer said. 

Knauer says she wanted to train Muffin to be a therapy dog. 

"I love training with them," she said. "I love working with them."

Knauer joined the local 4-H Dog Club to help them both learn. 

"She can kind of know when it happens before it happens," she said. 

She may be small, but Muffin's help is big. Knauer says she can determine when she she is going to have an axiety attack. 

"If I start tapping my fingers, she'll put her head under my hands," Knauer said. 

Muffin started going to classes with Knauer at Northview High School in Brazil, Indiana. 

Now, Muffin is a student herself with an official ID badge. The two plan to graduate this May. 

"We're going to have to custom make her cap," Knauer said. "We bought her {Muffin} a vest in our school colors."

Knauer strives to educate people about the use of "fake service dogs."

"You can go online and buy a service dog ID and a paper that says she is a service dog," she said. 

For about 20 dollars anyone can purchase a service dog certification. 

She says this shines bad light on people like her who have an actual disability.

"Don't immediately judge," Knauer said. 

Now, she is educating others. Knauer created a Facebook page called "Muffin's Journey." The page is a way for her to let people know about the daily life of an owner/handler and a service dog. 

She says she wants her voice heard. Not just that Muffin helped her disability, but advocating for service animals. 

If you want to follow along "Muffin's Journey," click here.

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