USAA Employee, Kendra S., says she and her service dog Bella have always felt included and accepted at USAA.
Bella is not your average dog.
“She is a four-year-old Beagle-Dachshund mix,” explains Kendra S., USAA employee. “Without her, I don’t know what I’d do. She is so important in my day-to-day life.”
Bella is Kendra’s service dog. Kendra says she has used the assistance of service dogs since 2010 to help her with a variety of daily tasks.
“Bella picks things up for me and can even help me get my wheelchair up ramps,” says Kendra. “She’s a small but mighty dog.”
Bella is also able to detect when Kendra is under stress and will respond by calming her down.
“She will instinctually come sit by me and press her body up against me,” says Kendra. “It reminds me to take a breath, and then I’m good.”
Like many dogs, Kendra met Bella at an animal shelter.
“When we first saw her, she was calm and very attentive,” recalls Kendra. “We brought her home and started to train her. She was responsive, and her attitude was so calm. She got up to speed quickly.”
Kendra says it isn’t uncommon for people to come up to Bella and start petting her when they are in public.
“She has a vest that says, ‘Please don’t touch,’ but people will still come up and pet her,” she explains. “I don’t mind if someone asks to pet her, but it’s important to ask first, because she has a job to do. I think a lot of people just don’t realize that.”
However, when the time is right, Kendra says that Bella has a special way of greeting new friends.
“I tell her to give a high-five and she’ll put out her paw,” says Kendra. “I think it’s great for kids to meet her because they can understand what a service dog is. And it also gives them the opportunity to meet someone in a wheelchair. I’d rather them ask me questions than fear someone with a disability.”
Kendra says she has always felt she and her service dogs are accepted and welcomed at USAA. That inclusion and the acceptance of others, Kendra says, does not go unnoticed.
“I’ve worked at other companies, and I have to say I really admire the inclusivity at USAA,” she says. “I’ve seen a lot of service dogs at the office with other people and I appreciate the designated outdoor areas for the dogs on campus. It’s really cool to have those accommodations.”