How Carrie Fisher's Emotional Support Dog Gary Improved Her Quality of Life

Carrie Fisher was a champion of mental health advocacy, a role that will perhaps have a more lasting impact in the lives of her fans than her marvelous turn as everyone's favorite princess.

In her years in the public spotlight, Fisher was incredibly open and brutally honest about her trials with bipolar disorder.

carrie fisher emotional support dog

Image credit: People Magazine

Gary the Frenchie, A Spokesdog for Emotional Support Animals

For four years, Gary was always by Carrie’s side. They went together everywhere – from the red carpet to the set. He famously accompanied her on the press tour for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, where he was constantly visible in interviews about the highly anticipated film. He appeared on talk shows with Carrie, making headlines when he fell asleep on Good Morning America.

He had a personality of his own. With his tongue always hanging out, Gary the Frenchie was distinctive in his own right. Carrie and her daughter Billie chronicled his adventures online, as he followed Carrie around the world. Eventually he became so popular in his own right that he had a Twitter account just for him, with thousands of followers. People love Gary wherever he goes, and thanks to the internet he’s become a massive social media superstar. Fans even created fan art showing off Gary in all kinds of ways, including this one from 2015 with Gary as an Ewok.

 carrie fisher emotional support dog

Photo credit: Instagram

Before Gary, emotional support animals didn’t have a public face. No one else in the spotlight had brought an emotional support animal with them along the way as a way to cope with a serious mental illness. His sweet disposition and the obvious therapeutic value that he offered to his owner shredded many of the misconceptions that were out there regarding the function of emotional support animals. His public example of what a support animal means to someone struggling with bipolar disorder has inspired people all over the world.

Carrie Fisher found that her dog Gary gave her strength and focus everywhere she went. He even got to preview The Force Awakens before the rest of the public, an enviable position for Star Wars fans everywhere. Gary helped Fisher to continue her work in entertainment even through difficult times. She was able to continue writing, a vocation that was as much a passion for her as performing. With the help of Gary, Fisher also was able to find the composure to continue to perform live and to give interviews. That was especially important during the massive press tour for Star Wars.

Because Carrie was so open about her struggles with mental illness, Gary was able to become the face of emotional support animals everywhere.

Emotional Support Dogs Can Help with Bipolar Disorder

Carrie Fisher was very open about the struggles that she faced with drugs, alcohol, and mental health throughout her decades in the spotlight. She wrote about them extensively in her books, starting with Postcards from the Edge. First diagnosed at the age of 29, a decade after her famous turn as Leia Organa in Star Wars, Fisher believed that being open was the best way to make a difference.

Bipolar disorder is a disorder that requires a great deal of work to cope with. It’s a daily battle that doesn’t let up. Bipolar emotional support animals can go with their owners almost everywhere, much in the way that bipolar disorder goes everywhere. That’s the essence of why these animals are so helpful for people like Carrie Fisher who are struggling with the disease.

During hypomanic periods, an emotional support animal is a grounding force, encouraging people with bipolar disorder to be reasonable and interactive.  Many of the more destructive impulses that can go along with high periods are patted down thanks to the needs of an emotional support animal. The emotional attachment that’s created with an ESA means that care for the animal is likely to be taken into account as someone with bipolar disorder starts to race towards negative behavior. That grounding force is a healthy expression that can bolster the positive effects of medication.

As a depressive period comes on, bipolar emotional support animals give their owners motivation to get up and moving. Even when it’s challenging to get up and out of bed to get something to eat or take a shower, it can actually be easier to get up and go care for an animal. Looking out for their needs give people with bipolar disorder a reason to keep going in the face of their struggle. An ESA can offer support through the loneliness and anxiety that are hallmarks of bipolar disorder, giving sufferers an outlet for growth.  

Bipolar disorder is treated by a team of professionals who can help sufferers to cope through counseling and medication. An emotional support animal can be a powerful part of that team effort to make life livable and productive for people with bipolar disorder.

Together to the End

“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 told the Herald Tribune in 2013.  The two were constant companions to the very end. He was even able to visit her in the hospital before her untimely death in December 2016.

Carrie’s daughter Billie Lourde will continue to care for her beloved emotional support dog now that she’s gone. His legacy will live on with hers.

We all miss Carrie Fisher already, as she had a spark that touched so many of our lives. Her advocacy for mental health has been a help to people all over the world, and her fearless honesty is inspiring to us all.

MyPetCerts can help you to determine the documentation that you need to go forward with getting an emotional support animal for bipolar disorder or other mental illnesses. More than just another treatment method, these animals can help people struggling with bipolar to have a more fulfilled and happy life. You deserve to live life better, and an emotional service animal can help.