A Service Dog is Coming to WB


Image/Graphics by Wanda Lytle

Ashley Mertz poses with her service dog, Tobie, at the softball field.

As many students and staff at West Branch know, Ashley Mertz will be bringing her service dog to school soon. Ashley’s dog is named Tobie. Right now Tobie is 9 months old, which means he is still a puppy. Ashley needs Tobie with her at school because she has postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome, thoracic outlet syndrome, and chronic fatigue syndrome. These three syndromes are associated with Dysautonomia, which is a dysfunction of the nerves that regulate non-voluntary body functions such as heart rate, blood pressure, and sweating. Tobie’s main job is to help Ashley walk when she gets weak. Tobie is currently learning medical alert to go get someone if Ashley passes out. The last task that Tobie’s learned was deep pressure therapy, which is a way to help Ashley when her blood pressure spikes. He also can keep Ashley responsive when she passes out by licking her face.

Even with her illness, Ashley self trains Tobie to do all of these amazing things. Ashley’s responsibility for Tobie is to keep him trained and focused. Tobie’s responsibility for Ashley is to keep her healthy and safe. When Tobie comes into our school there are some important rules Ashley wants all students to follow.

Ashley’s Rules for Students Around Tobie

1. Please do not pet Tobie or ask to pet him.

2. Please do not acknowledge him or distract him.

Wanda Lytle
Wanda Lytle