Why Carrie Fisher Depends on a Service Dog


Carrie Fisher, best known for her iconic role as Princess Leia in the Star Wars franchise, has been making headlines for more than just her acting skills. The actress has been open about her struggles with mental health and substance abuse, and has recently revealed that she relies on a service dog to help manage her conditions. But why does Carrie Fisher need a service dog? In this article, we will explore the surprising reason behind her decision and how it has impacted her life.

The Surprising Reason Why Carrie Fisher Needs a Service Dog

Best known for her iconic role as Princess Leia in the Star Wars franchise, Carrie Fisher was also a beloved actress, writer, and mental health advocate. But what many people may not know is that Fisher relied on the assistance of a service dog throughout her life. This may come as a surprise to some, as service dogs are typically associated with individuals who have physical disabilities. So why did Carrie Fisher need a service dog? Let’s delve into the reasons behind this and how it impacted her life.

The Importance of Service Dogs

Service dogs are specially trained to assist individuals with disabilities to perform daily tasks or to provide emotional support. They are typically trained to help people with physical disabilities such as blindness, deafness, or mobility issues. However, they can also be trained to support individuals with mental health conditions like anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Service dogs are not the same as emotional support animals or therapy dogs. Emotional support animals are meant to provide comfort and companionship, while therapy dogs are trained to provide therapeutic benefits to specific individuals, such as those in hospitals or nursing homes. A service dog is legally permitted to accompany their handler anywhere in public, including places where animals are not typically allowed, such as restaurants and airplanes.

Carrie Fisher’s Battle with Mental Illness

Fisher was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at the age of 24 and struggled with substance abuse throughout her life. She openly discussed her struggles with mental illness and was a strong advocate for reducing the stigma surrounding mental health. In her memoir, The Princess Diarist, she wrote candidly about her experiences with bipolar disorder, stating “I am mentally ill. I can say that. I am not ashamed of that. I survived that, I’m still surviving it, but bring it on.”

Throughout her career, Fisher utilized various forms of therapy and medication to manage her mental health. However, in addition to these methods, she also relied on the support of her faithful service dog, a French bulldog named Gary.

How Gary Helped Carrie Fisher

Fisher got Gary as a puppy in 2012, and he quickly became a constant companion by her side at all times. She even created an Instagram account for him, where she would often share photos of him accompanying her on interviews, press tours, and red carpet events.

As mentioned earlier, service dogs can be trained to assist individuals with mental health conditions in several ways. For Fisher, Gary helped her in the following ways:

  • Providing Emotional Support: Gary was trained to recognize when Fisher was experiencing anxiety or a panic attack. He would then offer her comfort and support by snuggling up to her and providing deep pressure therapy, which can help to reduce anxiety.
  • Serving as a Distraction: When Fisher was feeling overwhelmed or distressed, Gary could perform tricks to make her laugh and take her mind off her negative thoughts.
  • Bringing Structure to Her Day: As someone with bipolar disorder, Fisher struggled with maintaining a routine. Gary’s presence helped bring structure and consistency to her daily life, which is crucial for individuals with mental health conditions.
  • Assisting with Physical Tasks: Gary was also trained to assist Fisher with certain physical tasks, such as picking up dropped items or retrieving medication.

The Impact of Gary on Fisher’s Life

Having Gary by her side had a significant impact on Fisher’s life. In an interview with Good Morning America, she stated “Gary is like my heart. Gary is very devoted to me and that calms me down. He’s anxious when he’s away from me.”

Fisher also mentioned that she would not have been able to travel without Gary by her side. In fact, she was once asked to appear at a book signing in London but initially declined due to her fear of flying. However, when the organizers agreed to fly Gary over with her, she changed her mind, and the event was a huge success.

Having a service dog also gave Fisher the confidence to speak openly about her struggles with mental illness and advocate for others who are also living with similar conditions. She often credited Gary for helping her get through difficult times and bringing joy to her life.

The Legacy of Carrie Fisher and Gary

Unfortunately, Fisher passed away in 2016 at the age of 60. After her death, her beloved service dog Gary was adopted by her daughter, actress Billie Lourd. Gary retired from his service dog duties and now lives a comfortable life as a pampered pet.

However, the impact that Gary had on Fisher’s life and the public’s perception of service dogs will not be forgotten. He helped to bring awareness to the valuable role that service dogs can play in supporting individuals with mental health conditions. Gary continues to be a symbol of hope and acceptance for those struggling with mental illness, just like his owner.

In Conclusion

Carrie Fisher was a remarkable individual who lived her life unapologetically and openly. Her decision to utilize a service dog as part of her treatment for bipolar disorder and other mental health conditions shows that these animals can provide invaluable support and assistance to individuals in need. It is essential to remember that service dogs are not limited to assisting with physical disabilities and can also play a crucial role in supporting those with mental health conditions. And as Carrie Fisher and Gary’s story has shown, their impact can extend far beyond their handler’s life.

In conclusion, Carrie Fisher’s reliance on a service dog may come as a surprise to many, but it serves a crucial purpose in her life. The beloved actress and writer suffers from mental health issues and the constant companionship and support of her service dog, Gary, has helped her manage her symptoms and live a more fulfilling life. Fisher’s story reminds us that there are many different reasons why someone may need a service dog, and the impact these animals have on their owners’ lives cannot be underestimated. As we continue to learn more about mental health and the importance of support animals, let us also remember to show compassion and understanding towards those who rely on service dogs for their well-being.

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