Thursday, April 6, 2017

PEOPLE! Standing On Our Last Nerve (The LONG blog that will be a book)


THE FOLLOWING BLOG IS RATED NC-17 for the use of the words bra, and sex.

The content is for education of the public and support of the Service Dog community. – and we hope a few laughs because no one likes boring rants. The use of “We” in this blog applies exclusively to Team Goodee, and is not meant to apply to any other Service Dog Team or group, real or imagined. Our strong opinions are our own.

Disclaimers:

The feature character "Dr-X" and office staff is a composite character of past medical providers and does not resemble any of Team Goodee's current medical team.
The feature character Miss "Evil Spirit" Airways is a real person but, we wouldn't reveal her name even if we had it.


     “Clearly mom, it’s time for a blog.”
     “Hello Goodee the Service Dog,  What makes you think so?"
     “Well mom, you get a look. You are about to explode on your Facebook status.”
     “Oh yes, Goodee, it happens.”
     “Well why not just do a blog so people will      know what’s on your mind?”
     “Wonderful idea Goodee.

Here we go…”

TEAM GOODEE: THINGS THAT MAKE US WANT TO SCREAM!

     “Our survey says…”


* People who pet the Service Dog, or ask to pet after reading the words “DO NOT PET.”

There are several reasons petting is not allowed. First, the working dog might become distracted causing them to miss a vital que to their job—For example, Seizure alert dogs are able to signal their handler that a seizure is about to happen, allowing time for the person to reach their medication or a “safe” zone. However, when a stranger insists upon attention from the dog, even the best working dog is delayed in  signaling the handler This may lead to an unnecessary medical emergency.
(Yes, it’s a real deal. No, we may  not know how the dog does it. Yes, we know you THINK you are the exception to the rule. NO, there is NOT any exception to the “DO NOT PET” rule.).

Second, if you are close enough to pet the dog then you are too ___ close to the human handler and dog. —both of whom need PERSONAL SPACE (sometimes for private medical reasons).  As an example, Goodee the Service Dog is trained to keep people away from me because I am at risk of falling.

What happens when people get too close?

     “The chiropractor has an unexpected payday.”

     “correct Goodee but let’s break it down so people understand. Here’s our example:”

I am paused browsing a shelf at a secret location, our local mega-store (who didn’t pay me for advertising so I’m not going to tell you their name). —Suddenly, I hear six small kids yell “DOG!” I feel a rush of wind. Caught off-guard, spastic cerebral palsy causes my legs to stiffen as all the children run towards Goodee the Service Dog. I fall to the floor. Holding Goodee's leash helped,  however, Goodee is correct both my chiropractor and massage therapist got unexpected paydays during the next week. The fall shifted my whole spine.

An adult did “collect” her children. She smiled saying: “Oh I’m so proud of you no one touched the dog.”

I was speechless so I will reply now:

Dear adult who left children unsupervised,

There’s a lot more to being around a Service Dog then just not touching. The running child wind tunnel was cute. Your children almost  ran into my cart. I moved quickly to prevent their head injury.  My highly-trained dog did her best but it wasn't  enough to prevent my own fall. Thank you for the opportunity to entertain the kids. It cost me three chiropractor visits and two massage therapy sessions—some items not covered by insurance, you are welcome.

*People who insist upon “helping.”

Example: Dear stranger who thinks I am blind,

I know you are TRYING to help. However, I need to use the chair to balance myself. When you abruptly pull the chair announcing, “I have your chair for you,” the dog and I must adjust. In fact, if the dog wasn’t helping me  your yanking would cause me to fall.
(I sincerely appreciate any offers of help. However, please don’t take it personally if I say, “No thanks.” The Service Dog and I have a system. It’s important that we stick with it. We value our independence and you are not always here to help. It is a source of amusement to me that I previously struggled,  needing help, wanting help, sometimes getting the odd look from strangers clueless to my situation. Now, I have the Service Dog and I can do things for myself. —people run to “help.”—Some are sincere, others look around to make sure everyone knows they are “helping the disabled lady,” like a child selected to collect milk money, or clean erasers.).

* People who act like the human is invisible. / can’t see/ hear.

Example: At the top-secret pharmacy (Who also didn’t pay advertising consideration), I asked the pharmacy tech about a medication. The tech brought two boxes out looking “through” me to the man standing behind me and said:
“Which does she want?”
The stranger shrugged “I don’t know.”
“Why don’t you ask me?” I advised, after all “I asked the question.”
I conclude this is a “disability” thing. When I had no Service Dog I would stumble, sometimes people would look at me like I must be drunk, I was crushed by crowds and shopping carts because I wasn’t moving fast enough but people would never avoid eye contact with me. I didn’t have an outward symbol of disability, so I was treated like a “normal” person.

     I have been disabled my whole life but, post Service Dog I am painfully aware of stereotyping. Suddenly the world thinks  I can’t see, hear, or think for myself . Instead of talking TO me strangers talk ABOUT me in third person. 

Example:

Small town USA drug store (won’t give you their name because I no longer do business with them. —If they don’t recognize ME as a PERSON why do business there?).

Counter help looks through me to the dog and asks my mom: “Can she see?” 

My reply: “Yes the dog and I can see and hear. My mom doesn't have her hearing aids in so she she  has  difficulty hearing you. I have a question about MY account, so you should probably speak with ME."

(The person using a Service Dog may in fact be blind and deaf. There’s no shame in being either or both. It is rude to talk about someone in third person like they are invisible. Yes, a Service Dog is a sign that we are mitigating a disability but, we are proud of being able to take care of our own business and certainly have the right to do so. We know you probably do the same thing to people with walkers, canes, and wheelchairs so please stop! We are people,  Just people, real people).

     “Boy mom you certainly are on a “soap box.”
     “Goodee the Service Dog there’s plenty more. Continuing on down our list…”

* Professionals who think they are the exception to the “DO NOT TOUCH” rule/ want to make us “show-n-tell.”

There’s a “top secret” list of people who are the exception to our “Do Not Touch” rule.

     “I ate the list it was tasty.”
     “Thanks, Goodee."

The Goodee “safe circle” is a small group of people(they  know who they are and under what circumstances they may touch the Service Dog). 

The Service Dog knows boundaries so don’t try to enter the circle uninvited.   Do not assume because you work for “Dr X” that you may touch the Service Dog. —especially in front of others. The dog is not a prop to show how “cool” you are, or  “brighten your day.”

Example: 

Human and Service Dog in ER for human to get x-ray---

 Nurse, “oh what a cute dog,” inviting other patients to come in and view “the doggie.”- -  Please! We are not the “lookie loo” tour.

* Total strangers who invade our lives because we have “the dog.”

People want to tell you their story and know your story all in sixty seconds–  Example: “My uncle’s best friend’s girlfriend has a Service Dog, but, she’s blind and you don’t look blind so I think you don’t need a Service Dog like she does. You look too young to need a Service Dog. Why do you have your dog?”

(SLOW DOWN, we don’t know you. We are not here to be an interactive information board. We wanted to get our hair done, shop, or go to the doctor just like you. BTW, we really would like to be on our way now but, we will stop briefly to speak. However, DON’T expect us to detail why we have a Service Dog. —This topic may cause us anxiety or PTSD flashbacks.  Also, it’s a bit personal. We notice you are not wearing a bra, is there a medical reason for that, or do you just want to look sexy? —Well gosh, we may not want to disclose details to a total stranger either, especially in the supermarket checkout lane).

*Adults who want to make the Service Dog a “teachable moment.” 

Example:

“See the doggie. AH OH See the doggie, you see, see the doggie.”

(Really? Do you think the toddler with you is blind and doesn’t see the dog? What’s your point? You want the child to see “different” people?  Great, point out a few people with different color skin than yours, where everyone can hear you and see what happens.   Oh, you just want the kid to have a distraction? Try the juice box or toy you brought with you. —They are not busy and WE would like to shop in peace. The dog may or may not be distracted by your babble but the human who must hear 40+ adults babble “doggie” all day every day every time we go out in public is REALLY distracted, annoyed, and tired. If  you simply must use the dog as a "teach time" please do so in a whisper and without pointing. The human needs no more reminders about how "different" they are. Would you point to a person using a walker and say "Oh do you see the cute walker?" --The Service Dog is a MEDICAL DEVICE, nothing more nothing less.


Teachable Moment Example #2: 

"See the blind dog. It’s helping the lady."
.
(WOW!  “Blind dog.” While the child may not be able to understand everything If you are going to “teach” at least try being close to correct. The dog should not be blind and the person may not be. How about.-- “see the helper dog it is working for the lady.”—Service Dogs: They are not just for blind people!).

WE ARE NOT WITHOUT SYMPATHY

We do understanding “teaching time.” It is wonderful when an adult says: “See the dog it’s working and we don’t pet it.” I always stop and say, “Thank you so much!”

We ask for  SPACE,  PRIVACY, and RESPECT.  We are not public figures, information booths, or interactive displays. There are places to get information about Service Dogs, please don’t expect every Service Dog handler you meet to provide the 4-11. If you would like to exchange information ask the person for their email address. —Don’t ask the Service Dog they never check email.

     “Watch it”
     “Oh, Goodee the Service Dog, you are still  here.”

We understand that you want, want, want, to pet the Service Dog.  Sorry for some strange reason we need our medical device; try the medical supply store next door, maybe there’s an insulin pack you could pet. Oh, you NEED to pet the DOG? —We would sincerely ask that you go to your local shelter where dogs ACTUALLY DO NEED you to pet them. —Tell them Team Goodee sent you.

BE PREPARED FOR OUR HONEST REACTION

We are sorry to disappoint you but we are not a magical unicorn act. We don’t fart rainbows and keep a smile on our face for your benefit. We can’t stop our life for you. We have business meetings/ family time, and our life does NOT revolve around your need to “see,” and “chat” with the Service Dog.

We  don't  go out of our way to be rude but, we will make our point strongly. —Why? because your “need” to see, feel, and, get excited about “the doggie” is a danger to the human and the dog. Also, we have the Service Dog so that we may be out in public  doing things.  We cannot let people disrupt our routine to a ridiculous point.

Example 1:

Human goes out of doctor office waiting area to make a PRIVATE business call. Human is FOLLOWED by a patient. Human is on her cell phone, the “stalker” is “yapping” at the dog so loudly that  business comes to a sudden halt.

“Am I on speaker phone?” the CONFIDENTIAL client asks.

“No sorry, I had to step outside, must be road noise.”
(Placing the call on mute, I inquire of “stalker:”--

"Would you mind giving us a little space? I’m trying to have a private business conversation.”)

STALKER REPLY: “Well MY GOD I was JUST talking to the dog!”

ME: “Sorry visiting hours are over.”
(I walked away, thankful “stalker” didn’t follow).

Example 2:

In hotel lobby, tired from being on cruise ship and bus human and Service Dog trying to “chill.”

Flight attendant from "Evil Spirit” Airways comes through the door (She was wearing a uniform and honestly earned the title "Evil Spirit") ...

“OH, GOSH WHAT A CUTE DOG!” (running towards us with her noisy roller bag).

ME: “Sorry we are suffering through  a little “jet lag.” Could you give us some space?"

HER REPLY: (Pout) “OH BUT THE DOG IS SO CUTE I JUST CAN’T HELP BUT WANT TO COME LOVE ON HER (kissy smacking noise).

ME: “Sorry we are not set up to be a tourist display.”

HER REPLY: (as if  totally ignoring my request) “OH SHE LOOKS SO TIRED.”

ME: (Getting up from my seat) (announcing in a loud voice) “Be sure and look us up in the American Express Travel Guide, one Service Dog, seen it… MOVE ON!"

“Stalker” “Evil Spirit " Airways flight attendant turns to other flight attendants in the lobby:

“Well I was just being friendly.”

I couldn’t reply then but I will respond here:

Dear flight attendant,

We realized you were “off duty,” that’s why we didn’t ask you for any fluffy pillows, or snacks. Sorry our "off duty" sign is broken. We are only able to vend out unnecessary idle stranger chat a few hours at a time. 
You are totally clueless. Your conduct is scary. You lack listening skills, reading comprehension, and basic manners.

We are sorry you thought the words “Working Service Dog” meant “This way to the happy dog display.” We tried to let you know (several times) that our “airhead tolerance” was at an all-time low.

We are sorry you were not impressed by any of our education efforts. You left a lasting impression upon us, and we will never fly Spirit Airways.

PS. Does your employer know you act like that when your wearing your uniform in public?  Your conduct at the very least was rude and under some conditions could have caused injury to myself or the dog. Nice branding Spirit Airways. Please allow me to design a tagline for you:

 "Spirit Airways home of clueless airheads."

-----------------------------------------

Team Goodee is thankful for family, friends,  and professionals who get us through life from week to week.

We enjoy fans—

“Like” us on Facebook:
GoodeeWorks Productions
Contact us by email: GoodeeWorks@gmail.com

Please know when we are out and about we might have to say: “NOT NOW WE ARE WORKING!”

or if we are lucky…

“NOT NOW WE ARE ON VACATION!”

Stay tuned we promise another Vacation blog is coming soon.

--DD & GOODEE THE SERVICE DOG






Thursday, March 9, 2017





NOT NOW WE ARE ON VACATION!


This blog is lovingly  dedicated to the memory of: 

Dr John C Schmidt, DO. (Doc)


Without whom I would not have the quality of life I do today. Doc had an ability to look for solutions, and find them where others would not even try to look. He is gone but never forgotten. He loved beaches. On the cruise, I thought of him and I feel like when I visit a beach a small part of him is there.  I am blessed with the friendship of his lovely wife Carol.

 I know he would enjoy the stories in this blog and he would tell people. —Well, maybe we shouldn’t say it in this blog.Okay, but only because Goodee the Service Dog says to tell you. —The PG version Dr. Schmidt would probably tell you to “leave the dog the ___ alone!”

Preface: Team Goodee took an AMAZING cruise to the Bahamas   this past month. Why? Because: How could you forget? (or be allowed to since I announced it every few months). I had not been anywhere, not even to travel for business in 6 years. I looked upon the vacay pics of friends not with envy but, a longing to go myself.
GO, YES, WE DID!
Thank you to family and friends without whom it would not have been possible.
There will be a separate blog about SERVICE DOG FRIENDLY CRUISING. —If you need information feel free to comment below.
In this blog, we will discuss: PUBLIC INTERACTION with the SERVICE DOG.


Sometimes when you go on vacation, you want to be away from people.
  • ·         Have you ever been on vacation and had people STARE at you like you were an exhibit in a zoo?
  • ·         Have you ever been on vacation and had people YELL your name, over, and over, and over again?
  • ·         Have you ever been on vacation and had literally THOUSANDS of people want to touch and talk to your I-phone or other device you were using but, TOTALLY IGNORE YOU?
  • ·         While on vacation have you ever had, someone insist upon doing something despite a posted sign, and polite request not to do it?
  • ·         Have you ever been on vacation and had stranger after stranger insist upon asking you 20+ questions?
  • ·         Have you ever had someone talk about you as if you were both blind and deaf?

Chances are good everyone can relate to some of these items. Some people are just more friendly than others. However, if you relate to ALL of them, you are probably a Service Dog handler.

With Spring Break upon us I offer this blog to educate the well-meaning public.I often hear: “I just didn’t know.”—After this blog I hope you will know, and I hope you will share.  These real- world examples make my points:

YES: THEY REALLY ALLOW “THE DOG


     “They are not really going to let that lady on the ship with the DOG?” a man punches the lady next to him. I ignore the exchange because after all he isn’t talking to me, he is talking ABOUT me. —I’m on vacation and I don’t want to go into the paperwork required to bring a SERVICE DOG on a cruise ship. If this guy needs to know all that he can Google it.

     Team Goodee gets off the bus. Service Dog and human  tired but excited. Once inside the Sea Terminal we are taken directly to a special coordinator, who is tasked with taking care of Importation requirements for the SERVICE DOG.

     “I don’t know why they let that lady off the bus with the DOG. They are not going to let her on the ship with the DOG.”

Out of the corner of my eye, I see this man who has been pre-occupied with the DOG idea for nearly an hour now (literally since the shuttle ride was 45 minutes). He punches the lady next to him again.

     “Look they even let her cut in line with the DOG while the rest of us wait. They will probably send her home there’s no way a DOG goes on the ship.”

What he didn’t realize, in addition to being uneducated about SERVICE DOGS is that I was not taking a “cut” in line. I was being directed to the one person who could assist me and make sure my paperwork was in order, thereby saving time for other people behind me who had 12 other representatives that could assist them in boarding ahead of me.

     “Everything is in order, thank you.”

The kind lady sends us on our way with Miguel who assisted us all the way to our stateroom. This was the accumulation of 6 months of research and preparation. The “happy dance” came later but first, I turned around to the man who was still mumbling “I know there’s no DOGS allowed on the ship.” I did thumbs up saying: 

“YES, THEY REALLY ARE GOING TO ALLOW THE SERVICE DOG ON THE SHIP!”


WHY CAN’T I PET?


Day one of cruise and here’s dinner time. Human tries to navigate her way to main dining room.—Can’t move at all until 40 people pass by and say “DOGGIE.”—literally, I counted. If you think I am exaggerating I invite you to shadow us on the next cruise. —Why is this a problem?  You could simulate it sometime including jet lag and migraine factor and see what you think. In addition, there’s a “wall” created by people who literally stop to STARE at the dog. I am trying to move; the dog is trying to help me move but there are people stopped in front of me and behind me. There is nowhere to go. I must wait until someone decides to move one direction or another. —I don’t mind waiting but, of course while I am trying to figure a way around traffic, 10 people who read the “DO NOT PET” sign ask: “May I pet your dog?” My universal reply must always be: “Not right now she’s working.” For me, it’s nearly always true the dog is working but, in public places, even if she’s not I can’t let one person pet. Why? Well I tried that one day and it became the “petting zoo.”—If I let one person pet I must let the 25 people behind them pet. —Then we all must listen to the 25 or so people who really don’t care to pet the dog they just need SPACE to do what they were there to do in the first place.
So, let’s see, people jammed in saying “doggie,” continually, me needing to move but people not wanting to move because they all want to STARE at the doggie, then they suddenly think they are the exception to the posted rule so they ask to pet, but wait, there’s more. People  will “fly-by” pet where they pet and walk fast as if they are just so cool. —These fly-bys nearly cause me to go to the ground but I must remain cheerful because after all I should understand these people can’t help themselves they MUST pet, even if it has serious medical consequences for me. Who am I to stand in their way?

Things finally smooth out and we wait for an elevator. An older gentleman comes over and informs me in a serious tone
      “you shouldn’t bring a dog if you are not going to let people pet it.”
By this time, I have had enough. I decide these elements will not ruin my vacation. Furthermore, I will not jeopardize my safety or that of my Service Dog. The exchange continues:

ME: “Sir the dog is a medical device not a toy. To tell me I should not bring her is like telling someone not to bring a cane or walker.”

(gentleman becomes red in the face as the lady traveling with him grabs his collar trying to pull him out of our space).
HIS REPLY: “Well the dog is cute and people like that.”

ME: “That’s nice but people are not totally dependent upon her for balance like I am she is a tool not a toy.”
Thankfully the elevator comes and he gets on. Team Goodee waits for the next one (or the one after that).

THERE ARE ALL KINDS OF SERVICE DOGS THEY ARE NOT JUST FOR BLIND OR DEAF PEOPLE
(We may see and hear what you are saying)


At several points in our trip:--airport, hotel, and on the ship people would STARE at me then STARE at the Service Dog. Some people would come “zero line” right up to the dog’s nose talk to the dog and then leave as if there was no HUMAN attached to the leash.
 Sometimes people would turn to someone with them and say “I wonder if the lady is blind?”
To their shock, I would say: “No, I’m not blind and I’m not deaf either, did you have a question for me?”

I would point out: There is nothing wrong with being both blind and deaf.--If a person is both, or either, it is still WRONG to talk ABOUT them as if they are not there.

It was a source of amusement to me to STARE right back at people and watch their reaction.

SERVICE DOG SEEN IT, MOVE ON


 60 people waiting for an elevator (yes, I counted).  I was seated tying a shoe while the mass of people were “talking at” the dog. One man got right in the dog’s face and said “bow-wow.”

     “I think he was intoxicated mom.”'

     “oh, hello Goodee the Service Dog. Yes, I think you are right. What about the other people that were talking about us like we were a stop on the all-access tour?”

     “Well I don’t know what their excuse was but you put them in their place"

     “Yes, Goodee I had to.”

     “So, are you going to tell our readers what happens next?”
     “OK drum roll…

I stood up and said:

“Please visit us in the American Express Travel Guide. Be sure to check us off your list. One Service Dog, seen it MOVE ON!”

After this there were fewer on-lookers.

WE DON’T KNOW YOU SO GIVE US A BREAK


Some people just love to tell their story and never meet a stranger. Others (like me) want to have a few close friends around but for the most part, like to be left ALONE.
At one point on the beach, Service Dog and human are enjoying the view. A stranger comes over and begins to tell her entire life story—two children, houses, dogs etc. without giving her name or asking mine. However, she did find time to ask “what’s your dog’s name.?”
I know it’s just something to talk about but, why not ask my name? Why does she care about the dog’s name but not a single other detail about me?

She looked at me oddly when I stuck my hand out saying, 

 “My name is DD.”

Apparently, this disrupted her thought pattern because she started talking about something else and never came back to the dog’s name. She went on, and on, and on some more…

     “So, I have seen you around the ship, and I notice how independent you are and that you do things for yourself. I asked my husband and my sister if they knew but they didn’t know, and I’ve been wondering to myself now for three days. "I wonder if that lady with the dog is traveling with someone? I wonder how it works that she and the dog can do things alone? I wonder how it is she got the dog on ship?"  So today I decide to ask you."

“Alone, we are alone. We prefer alone actually,” I said firmly as I moved further down the beach.

     “Oh, I see. I know about Service Dogs and how you shouldn’t pet them and all but I thought I would ask because I miss my dog so much. Can I pet your dog?”

     “Sorry not right now she’s working.”

     “Oh okay, I just wish I could bring my dog.”

     “I wish I didn’t have to.”

     “Oh, I didn’t mean (embarrassed look), well I will leave you be.”

FINALLY, she gets it. Most days I don’t mind giving out Service Dog information but by day three of this cruise I was worn thin. There were thousands on this ship, thousands of people in the airports, and hundreds of people in the hotel. Would you like to navigate that many people and be asked the same four questions about your dog, every 4ft?

IN CONCLUSION


Most of the time people with Service Dogs don’t mind being friendly but please don’t act like we ruined your whole vacation if we don’t want to sit and chat. The Service Dog and human you see are not set up to be public figures, goodwill ambassadors, or interactive toys to replace the dog you left at home. The human is simply a person trying to get things done just like you. Wanting to be on vacation and relax, just like you. By the way, the dog looks like your dog but it is a highly trained medical device. The dog is assisting the human to do something they would not otherwise be able to do, such as measure blood sugar level,  detect allergens - –  or maybe even something you do as a matter of course, without assistance such as: walk, sit, stand, hear, or see.

Would you sit and stare at someone in a wheelchair? Would you ask to pet a walker? – See the Service Dog, admire at a distance and go on. If you need information YCGI (You Can Google It).

Did I get a vacation? YES
Would I do it again? SOON AND OFTEN
Would I do it without my Service Dog? NEVER, it would not be physically possible without my Service Dog. Other medical devices are not effective for me. So, my choices are go with the Service Dog, or not at all.
Do I learn to take people’s outrageous behavior in stride?  YES
But let me ask you--- Should I have to do so? 

We would like to thank our friends and family who keep us going and our friends in the Service Dog Community who know the shoes we walk in and the struggle we face.

     Team Goodee appreciates communication by email and Facebook. When you see us out and about we will likely say: “Not Now We Are Working.

Come back next week when we address the popular question:

"How does a Service Dog do their business on a cruise ship?"

---DD & Goodee 



Saturday, February 11, 2017

Here's The Sign

On our weekly grocery run, there appeared a grandmother with her grandson. Grandmother Reads aloud: “SERVICE DOG DO NOT TOUCH.”

     “Hey mom that’s what it says on my vest in pretty BIG letters!”

     “Oh, hello Goodee the Service Dog. Yes, you are correct that is what it says on your vest. How do Service Dogs read?"

     “That’s top-secret CIA stuff mom if I told you, I might have to kill you.”

     “Fair enough Goodee. We will just say Service Dogs are smart,"

Let’s continue for our readers -- when a child is too young to read you should read to them.
In this case, I continued browsing, to my shock and horror grandmother says:

     “GO ASK if YOU CAN pet the dog!”

     I’m thinking “UGH!” as I attempt a rapid walk away.
(and Goodee the Service Dog is thinking: “WTF lady you just READ the sign!”)

“Goodee! Watch it! the blog is rated “E” for everyone.”

     “Well it reads better rated “NC-17.”

     “Your editorial skills are masterful Goodee.”

So, grandson is hot on our trail. Grandmother is still shopping a distance away. Inevitably the boy finds us again. I stop to dispense with the big question. The boy gives me the best reason for “needing” to pet the dog: 
     
“Today is my birthday, can I pet the dog?” 

I would like to correct the child’s grammar but instead, simply reply: “Happy Birthday, thanks for asking but, she’s working right now.”

Wrinkling a brow, the boy says: “Why’s she working.” “Well she has to help me walk, “I replied, beginning to move my shopping basket. The boy says “Oh,” but continues to follow us closely. Grandmother is nowhere in sight. We drifted several directions, the little stalker remains relentless. He darts over into our path, front, behind, all over the place. This behavior catches the eye of other shoppers. Grandmother finally yells out, trying to find her Denise the menace. He stops a few seconds but then continues to follow us.

     “What you did next mom is pretty funny.”

     “Yes, Goodee it was. I should tell the readers that it was all in the interest of revenge.”

     “True mom they might get the wrong idea about you otherwise.”

     “I will just address my apology to the grandmother:"

Dear Grandparent:
Your grandson has stalked me all over the store for nearly 30 minutes now. I know you had a lot of shopping to do. I don’t mind babysitting really, I think that your grandson is charming.
Do you normally allow your grandchild to follow and make conversation with strangers?  I find your behavior odd, you allowed and encouraged the child to seek me out. You know nothing about me but, I can tell a lot about you.
You are clueless about the number of things that could happen in the dangerous situation you alone created. You gave up an opportunity to teach the child some manners. You entered the child in the AMBER ALERT lottery, thankfully he didn’t win.
I’m sorry for my loud chuckle but, it was fun watching you try to explain the most personal of plastic products and jelly, as I ducted into the beauty section.  You looked my direction but, it’s not my fault the little guy is attracted to bright packaging.
Today’s lesson brought to readers by the “clueless grandmother”: Read and observe all signs, explain them to the children with you.
PS. Would you tell a child “Go ask if you can pet the wheelchair?”
We didn’t think so!
The Service Dog is a TOOL not a TOY!


  

We appreciate all our friends. Please know when we are out and about we must say:

“Not now we are working!”

DD & SERVICE DOG GOODEE

Saturday, January 21, 2017

RIDESHARE: NAVIGATING THE WORLD WITH A SERVICE DOG

Yesterday I experienced another problem with access to rideshare. This literally averages once per week, sometimes twice in a row. The problem is similar no matter which rideshare company I use. The pattern is the same: driver stops, sees clearly marked SERVICE DOG, Driver YELLS: NO DOG, or “You CAN’T take the dog. Then, I TRY to educate (if they haven’t driven away already).

To rideshare drivers who continually tell me: “I just didn’t know they don’t tell us”
There IS training material.  Do you need “scratch and sniff books” to understand it?

Please recognize when you sign up to provide rideshare it is a real job with real legal consequences.

When you see, something that  looks like a dog, don’t assume I just want to take it with me to be cute.

I wish I didn’t need the dog but here’s the deal:
I have a disability. The dog functions as a cane. I tried various other ways to mitigate my disability but nothing else worked. Federal and state law requires that I be allowed to mitigate my disability using the SERVICE DOG.

SO:

When you see something that looks like a dog MR/MS RIDESHARE DRIVER here is what you do:
You can ask the person with the dog two questions:
1. Is the dog a Service Animal required because of a disability?
2. What work or task has the dog been trained to perform?

If the reply to question #1 is yes, and there is a reasonable reply to question #2, you must allow the dog in your car PERIOD END OF STORY!
Here’s a link to Department of Justice ADA information
Notice, you cannot ask what disability the person has, or ask for documentation for the dog.
There is no new car, or allergy exception to the law. In the unlikely event that the Service Dog does damage or cleaning is required, you can charge the Service Dog handler a fee, just like any other customer.

Here are a few examples from each of the rideshare companies I have used (company names have been left out because my goal is education).

Driver: Is the dog going?
Me: “Yes she is a Service Dog required for my disability.
Driver (interrupting before I go on to TRY and explain how the dog functions):
“You will have to get another driver, I just can’t take the dog.”
Me: “The dog is required, she functions like a cane doing balance/ counter-balance, if you refuse service you will be in violation of Federal and State laws.
Driver: “Well let me call them.”
Me: “Please do and let me talk to them.”

In this instance the company did explain to the driver that if she drove away she would be deactivated from their platform because she is required by law to transport the Service Animal with me.

It’s pleasing that the driver took steps to call driver support, and get correct information. Out of a full year with an average of 6 trips per week, I had only ONE driver say she would contact her support line before refusing service.

There have been other instances where the driver shouted “You can’t take the dog,” and promptly left without allowing any other interaction and there have even been instances of the driver coming right up to me, seeing the dog, and hitting “cancel.”

When I experience a total denial of service I always complain to the rideshare company and I do additional complaints to the Department of Justice. The rideshare companies tell me they address drivers accordingly, including temporary deactivation while they make sure the driver understands the law.
After the fact education is better than nothing but, in the age of technology there is no excuse for having to do it.

Put yourself in my shoes just for the day:

You are physically not able to drive, not able to ride a bike, not even able to walk ½ block due to physical limitations. You have a way to mitigate your disability. You can be “normal” and get things done.
Fantastic! (maybe)

You must go for appointment so you start out an hour and thirty minutes early because you have no idea whether the driver who is “minutes away,” “like running water,” “at your disposal,” will comply with disability access laws.
You have a 1 in 3 chance that the driver will refuse service and you must try for driver #2 or #3 before getting the service you need.

On a rare great day there’s no problem on the first stop but, wait you have to do two more errands before heading home so on stop two, or three you just may encounter the driver who refuses no matter what you say.—so NO DOG, means NO RIDE, which means no idea if you are  going to make it to your  next appointment on time, or when you will return home.-- No way to run a life much less have  a social life.

On a bad day:

First driver NO DOG, NO DOG NO DOG, yelled at the top of his lungs
Second driver: Roll by upon seeing the dog, hit “cancel,” I get a text “sorry our driver had to cancel today,” REALLY? After coming from 12 minutes away the driver just happened to need to “cancel” upon seeing the Service Dog? Third driver: “NOT IN MY CAR LADY” as he drivers away.  Driver 4 finally knows the law and complies.

At the conclusion of the day, I contact customer care for the rideshare company. The reply is always the same, “so sorry, it’s not our policy, we will address it with the driver.”
Wonderful! Glad to know you don’t routinely discriminate against disabled people. Please find a way to communicate this to your drivers so that I am provided the same service as your “normal” customers.

To people who have said: “You do eventually get a ride, so what’s the big deal?”
I say, come spend a week in my body and I will show you “the big deal.” Navigating barriers to get things done is one thing, but having unnecessary barriers because some jerk does not know, or does not want to comply with the law, gets old. —These are people that get in your face and insist that they are correct, refuse to listen to anything you have to say, and roll away acting so superior.

PS: This is the 21st century and discrimination is against the law; I would also think it's considered rude to totally ignore a customer.

We appreciate all our friends. Please know when we are out and about we must say:
“Not now we are working!”

DD & SERVICE DOG GOODEE

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

SERVICE DOG HOLIDAY HANDBOOK

(Things you need to know about Service Dogs during the holidays and obviously don’t)

My Service Dog is a constant help to me. I have absolutely no balance without her. She functions as a cane, and provides balance and counter balance. This is probably something you don’t realize your body does for you automatically.
Service Dogs are AMAZING; they provide things to a human that are not available from other devices. In my case, my peripheral vison is so poor due to brain damage, that my entire body is off-balance. I look down and things appear further away, or closer than they are. —This means when I try to use a cane it becomes another object to fall over.
Having my Service Dog Goodee out in front of me allows my body to compensate and I become aware of the depth of things, making it easier to use steps.  I also use Goodee to retrieve things from high shelves. In some instances, I am unable to see the handicap ramp but I give Goodee a command to search for it.
A Service Dog is life-changing for the disabled person who uses it. On some levels the Service Dog looks and acts like every dog; however, they are in no way typical or average. A Service Dog goes through years of training and continual training and testing to be reliable for the disabled handler.
It is most helpful and in fact vital that the Service Dog and handler be given access to public areas and freedom of movement.

Here are a few ways the well-meaning public blocks access for Service Dogs, creating a barrier, and defeating the purpose of a person having a Service Dog. This creates a highly frustrating situation. —Which is a nice way of saying: Please get a grip, notice it’s a dog and move on. Service Dog handlers are people, just like you. At the end of the day we just want to get stuff done.
1. THE BOX IN: This is where the Service Dog and handler are turned around looking at something on a shelf and everyone else in the store becomes so fascinated by the “neat dog,” shopping carts and people form a circle, the Service Dog handler turns around to try to exit finding the wagons are “circled” to a point that there is NO EXIT. Someone finally realizes they need to BACK UP AND GIVE THE DOG SPACE. —This would be so the human can continue shopping. --- PS. Don’t look at the handler like they have three-heads as they are working their way through the maze you created. Many Service Dog handlers can see and hear, we all have feelings.
2. HANG UP THE CELL PHONE AND DRIVE: When you are in a store please notice the Service Dog and shopping cart are a wide load coming at you. —The dog may not be able to “stop short,” “change lanes,” or “U-turn.”
3. THE STALKER:  Please don’t follow a Service Dog and handler for several blocks throughout the store. They are not likely to share information with you between the toilet paper and cat food. When you see a Service Dog just MOVE ON. If you have a question about Service Dogs or training, it’s on the web google: Service Dogs Your Town USA. If you have a question about the dog: Their name, breed, rank in litter, that’s information you don’t need. Why do you need the dog’s name? Are you wanting to make conversation with a total stranger? Most Service Dog handlers don’t like to give out the dog’s name. — because it’s natural to call the dog as soon as you know the name, this causes a distraction for the working dog. If you want to know: what the dog does, how long the person has it, or why they got it, this may include private medical information and in some cases talking about these items is a PTSD trigger.
4. SILENCE IS APPREACIATED: The Service Dog is trained to ignore you. When you continually say “see doggie,” making barking noises, or point. It’s not cute it’s rude. You don’t look cool you look like an idiot. While it is natural for a child to say “doggie” when they see one, adults should not be nearly as amused. If the dog isn’t distracted the human handler certainly is. In case you don’t notice you are not original, the Service Dog and handler have heard all your obnoxious comments before.
5. IF YOU MUST HAVE A “TEACHABLE MOMENT” for your child, please do so FAR AWAY from the Service Dog. The dog you are making into a teaching exercise is in fact a medical device upon which the handler is totally dependent. There is a one-time limit on “see the doggie.”—If you say it 5 times and the child has still not shown an interest please get over it and go away!
6. NO “ARM CHAIR” COMMENTS: Things such as: “You are making that poor dog work,” “Oh the dog is working hard,” and “You made your dog tired,” are unnecessary and unwanted. Only the handler knows when a dog is working. When you see, a dog laying it doesn’t mean it is not “working.” If you have comments about a working dog put them on opinion web sites don’t confront a handler while shopping.
7. PUT YOURSELF ON “MUTE” AND KEEP YOUR HANDS AWAY FROM THE SERVICE DOG.
Do not talk to the dog. Your chatter may contribute to a medical emergency for the disabled person. No “fly by” pets. If a sign says DO NOT PET, it is there for a reason. When you insist upon petting you are not cute, you are a jerk without regard for others. “Fly bys” cause loss of function and may contribute to falls, seizures, or “flashbacks” for the disabled handler.
8. No “Critiques” for the dog. The Service Dog is aware of being “cute,” “good,” or any other adjective you can use. DO NOT TELL the DOG “You’re a good dog.” In fact, you have no way of knowing if the dog has been good or just done something for which they need to be scolded.
9. NO FEEDING THE SERVICE DOG Many Service Animals are on special diets. ASK before offering the Service Dog anything. I do not let my Service Dog accept food from strangers. We go out often, and I don’t want her to think she will get food everywhere. Furthermore, you just never know what a stranger may feed your dog.
My Service Dog Goodee is highly skilled with magic words. I was proud of her when she showed no interest in shrimp, a worker  threw  to the floor to “call the doggie.”—
Dear Dipshit employee,
The dog is attached to a leash; she is trained NOT to pay attention to you. She is in fact, attached to my body and it’s her job to stay with me. She knows not to take food from strangers. —Yes, I CAN see I am NOT BLIND—even if I was I could sense you trying to distract the dog.
Sorry we can’t do a little show for you. Do you think you could go back to your job and leave us to ours?
PS. That looked like good Jumbo Shrimp you threw to the ground. Does your employer know you are wasteful?

When you see us out and about please know we must say:
NOT NOW, WE ARE WORKING!

Saturday, November 12, 2016

The Holiday Life of a Service Dog Handler

PREFACE: I have great friends and family. – a small, supportive group. Also, I am most grateful and thankful for the medical staff that helps me deal with things life brings my way. You all know who you are, and this blog is not addressed to you.

I write on behalf of others in the Service Dog community who feel frustrated, isolated, unwanted, invisible, and unable to raise their voice. 

I want to provide a small glimpse into what it is like to navigate the world with a Service Dog during the holiday season.

Recently,  boxed in by holiday inflatables in a store, instead of cheer, I instantly thought of extra holiday shoppers.  Like other people, I will melt in and possibly be crushed by on-coming people traffic. —Unlike others, I will be the “spectacle,” the “teachable moment,” the “neat” thing people point to(literally).
Do I not like attention?  Well, let give you a sample of how “neat” it is to need a Service Dog.
Would you like this?
People on both ends of the aisle STOP dead in their track to look, gawk and YELL, “Doggie.” I guess no one has ever seen one before. I just need to get to the other side of the aisle and truly want to be LEFT ALONE so I can get shopping done and LEAVE. – Yet I cannot move because everyone on both sides of the aisle is frozen.
We finally clear a path but not before 12 people come up and ask if they can pet the dog—Despite the LARGE DO NOT PET sign. At least 6 of the 12 people will beg vocally to pet, --one, will use the F word telling me I should not bring a dog if I don’t want people to pet it.
I finally make it through shopping and need to go to the ladies’.  I wait an extra 30 minutes because people are in the large stall—the only stall I am able to use safely with my dog. I don’t mind waiting but when there are small stalls vacant it would make sense for people who CAN use them to do so and leave the large stall for the person with the medical device.
Thankful like others to be done with any shopping. –Then I realize, I didn’t buy anything for parties because well I don’t get invited out because there is this elephant of which no one speaks—THE DOG.
I have at least 15 people or so per year ask if I could come do “X” and “Oh can you just come without THE DOG because, well __ is afraid of dogs, oh and ___has to bring her princess dog and that dog doesn’t get along with other dogs, and well you know --- I CAN HELP YOU – You don’t really NEED the dog, do you?
I always think WTF, of course I NEED the dog! She is not an optional extra! I always manage to get a smile on my face, and lately choke back tears that are only reserved for the therapist office because well after all “Service Dog people” are so full of cheer. I politely decline all invitations to go without my SERVICE DOG, the device which allows me to be “normal. “At least 3 people will tell me how much they will miss me being there, once someone said “I guess you get use to having to be left out.” --- To which I smile, say “I guess” and continue to hold in emotion, looking forward to being alone so I can explode.
I am constantly told “just continue to educate” “People just don’t know.”—SO here it is. —Please make notes:

1. When you have a Service Dog it is a sign that you do NEED the dog to mitigate a disability—The subject of people faking disability is a different blog.
2. Always assume the person needs the dog and will tell you IF you can help. NO, you cannot take the place of a highly trained medical device.
3. NEVER ask a person to leave their SERVICE DOG anywhere.
4. If you can’t have the Service Dog at the party because of ____ then don’t tell the Service Dog handler, “Gosh I would but____.” People attached to Service Dogs have real feelings, telling them what they will miss only adds to feelings of isolation.
5. Don’t be rude enough to call the person after the holiday and tell them about the party to which “Gosh, I would have invited you but___,” There is enough isolation without having to relive it again and again.
 It doesn’t help to hear every detail of your fun when I’m not invited.

Service Dog handlers are the “toy of the month.” – The thing that people love to see as if we are an interactive educational display. We often encounter people who talk baby talk to the dog, scold us for having a dog, or tell us how lucky we are to have a dog and then move on without asking a single thing about the human attached to the end of the leash, or maybe not even acknowledging there is a human at the end of the leash.
During the holidays Service Dog handlers have a hard time because we are treated like entertainment on the schedule at the mall, then we get home and have no text, no emails, no phone calls because, well we were good for a store display but THE DOG would just not be good at the party.

In closing let me give you a glimpse into my life without THE DOG:
 I fell constantly, not even having enough balance to get down steps. Sometimes I needed two people to help me sit or stand. When I was younger my family would carry me up steps that were too steep because there was no “disability access” back then, you just had to create your own IF you wanted to do anything “normal.”

Now, I have THE DOG, we move when we want to move, I go places and do things completely by myself. —All because THE DOG is able to provide things that mitigate my disability. Would I like to have more human contact? Maybe.
 Would I like people to recognize me as a HUMAN and stop talking to THE DOG as if she is THEIR TOY. —ABSOLUTELY!

Would I change anything? YES! I would love to change people's attitudes about Service Dogs. I want people to understand that "the doggie" is a medical TOOL and NOT a toy!

Would I ever want to be without my SERVICE DOG--- NEVER!