Body = Bad. Food = Delicious. Dog = Good.

I think most people with disabilities feel guilty about taking advantage of accommodations at one point or another. I won’t get into what I think plants that seed now; that’s another whole article. But I really don’t think I’m alone in that.

There are days when I’m getting around so well that I feel guilty about using Disabled Parking even with my chair and dog. There are times when I feel a little bad that I don’t have to pay at the parking meter. I wonder sometimes if I stole a stellar service dog from someone who might have needed her more.  Continue reading

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Not Just Cute

Recently, I’ve had some conversations regarding the current marketing theme for many non-profits that provide Service Dogs – the cuteness of the dogs and pups. Our culture, particularly the socialmediasphere (yep, all one word), is obsessed with cute animals; my Facebook feed is blasted with memes of sad puppies, videos of babies and dogs singing together (it’s had more than 8 million views on YouTube), and canines wearing glasses. Continue reading

“Sit. No. Sit. No. Sit!”

A couple of times a week, I get asked if Bright is in training. It probably shouldn’t, but it’s kind of giving me a complex; does she look like she’s in training? Do I look inexperienced at handling her? Or is the idea of a graduated, working Service Dog just so foreign to most people that they assume that every dog they see in public is in training for that far-off, out of this world goal? Or maybe it’s because I’m not blind – Service Dogs are always seeing eyes, right?

Even though Bright has achieved that far-off goal, the issue begs another question: Is a Service Dog ever done with training? Continue reading

Tag! You’re it!

While most people we encounter marvel at Bright’s impeccable behavior and good looks (hehe), every once in awhile, someone decides she needs pity: “Oh, that poor dog always has to work. I bet she wishes she could play sometimes.”

Let me start with this: Of course she gets to play! Come on! Continue reading

Legislation: It’s for the Dogs

Voting day!

Bright and I hope that you all exercise your wonderful right to vote today, and that you cast it not out of fear or obligation, but because you know it’s right.

On that note, I thought it would be appropriate to talk about breed specific legislation today, as it’s an issue that impacts tens of thousands of dogs and their people. This article really just scratches the surface; if it’s something you’re interested in, I encourage you to do some of your own research. Continue reading

Rub a Dub Dub

A pup in the tub!

About once a day, someone says, “Wow! Your dog is so beautiful!”

Guess what. That takes a lot of work. Continue reading

A World of Distractions

“Can I pet your dog?” It’s the million dollar question.

I’ll tell you what: if you’re uncomfortable talking to strangers, don’t get a Service Dog. I’m asked constantly if it’s ok to pet, and in between the requests, many people do it without asking at all.

Unfortunately, this is not a question with a consistent answer, so really, all you can do is ask. Continue reading

A Dog at the Diner?

People often ask, “Where can you take your dog?”

The answer: Pretty much anywhere I can go, with a couple of extremely rare exceptions.

Public access for Service Dogs is protected under a number of federal laws such as the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Fair Housing Act, and the Air Carriers Act. Individual states sometimes have more specific laws and provisions, too.

At the very least, under the ADA, any establishment that serves the public, including public transit, must allow service dogs. When I get on the train or airplane, so does my dog. If I stay at the Ritz Hotel, so does my dog. If I have dinner at a tiny mom and pop malt shop, so does my dog.

 

Well, she wouldn’t actually have dinner there, but we’ll address etiquette another time. Continue reading

Why do you need that dog?

Yes, I really do have to answer that question on a pretty regular basis. Sometimes it’s even followed with, “She pulls you? Can’t you push yourself?”

Wait. Wait a darn minute.

In my sans-Bright moments, I’m often asked, “Don’t your arms get tired pushing your wheelchair all the time? Why don’t you have handles?”

So which is it? One half of the peanut gallery thinks I’m being lazy for using a dog for propulsion; the other half thinks I should get handles and let another human be responsible for my mobility. Continue reading

An Introduction to Questions, Comments, and Suggestions

Is that your dog?

That’s so cool! I was thinking about getting my dog one of those vests so I can bring him everywhere with me!

How do you know your dog gets to go to the bathroom enough?

That looks just like MY dog!

Umm…can you…er…see me? I mean, you’re blind, right? You don’t look blind.

Why does your dog look sad? Your dog looks so sad!

Why do you need a service dog? You don’t look like you need one.

Did you train that dog?

[Parent to child] Never pet service dogs. They bite.

[Parent to child] Ooh, look at the puppy! Go pet it and I’ll take a picture!

You’re going to run that dog’s foot [or ear, or head, or tail] over. 

That dog is underfed (whispered to companion – not to me); look at how skinny it is!

This list, I lament to say, is far less than complete. Usually, in the moment, I respond with the most polite, obvious answer I can conceive. I’m really excited to elaborate a bit.