Three years sounds like a long time and it is. I don’t think I’ve ever waited for anything that long in my entire life, but as I’m looking at Vienna now, I can’t even remember the difficulty of the anticipation. The bond that I’ve created with Vienna is unlike any I’ve made with any other person or pet. She is my teammate, friend, and confidant. Vienna and I have been together for five months, but it feels like I’ve known her for a lifetime. Things like going to Costco, getting my teeth cleaned, and being in large crowds, suddenly became a lot easier with her. She has changed my life forever. For example, it’s hard for those who don’t understand autism to grasp the concept. Vienna has helped me bridge the gap between the neurotypical and the neurodivergent. Who doesn’t like dogs right? People will come up to me and ask me why I have her. Frequently, I’m happy to explain autism in adults and how autism affects me. People often say: “well, you don’t look autistic!” and this gives me a chance to educate them about invisible disabilities. Vienna has taught me not only to educate others but to advocate for myself as well. I’ve become more confident and more verbal about my needs and wants. Now, I’ve become an advocate at my school! I am an intern at the Mosaic program which specializes in helping adults with autism in college. I’ve become an advocate for those who can’t advocate for themselves. All because of the newfound confidence that Vienna has given me. Vienna has given me a new lease on life. I feel like a completely new person like I’ve grown into the best version of myself. Honestly, I never knew I could feel this happiness and security that I feel today. I’ve never felt like I can be my full self without being judged.
Follow Vienna and Hannah on Instagram @valiantvienna