Wednesday, December 21, 2011

YES WE CAN! & NO, WE DON’T: The Service Dog in the Social Setting

“Don’t pet and don’t distract are well known Service Dog rules. –These are certainly a good start but in the social setting Service Dog Etiquette is much more complex. –Consider the following real-life situations:


 “Do I have to wear Reindeer Antlers mom?”  “No, Goodee the Service Dog]. “. What gave you the idea you have to wear Antlers?”
“Well, we were invited to this party and one of the humans said: “It would be cool for us to put Antlers on the dog.”

“No Goodee the humans were being silly.”
My Service Dog Goodee is correct fashion consultants offer to outfit us in various items throughout the year. Clothing is both a required utility and personal choice for the Service Dog team. Stylish and cute items are often overlooked in the interest of safety.


 “Are there really going to be lcats and dogs at the party mom?”
“Well, I don’t know Goodee the Service Dog. I will find out.”
“That’s good mom.  You should find out because we can work with most anything it’s just always nice to know.” “I did hear a human say: “Goodee might need friends.”

“Gosh Goodee, you hear a lot.”
“Yes, mom I am a trained observer. I hear all kinds of things and report them to you so you can stay safe.”

“That’s correct Goodee, you keep me safe no matter what happens.”

In this exchange Goodee is concerned about cats and dogs because of both her natural dog instincts and her training to protect me. 
We like to enjoy ourselves when we go out but Team Goodee’s first concern must be our own safety. We often adjust for other animals and humans.


Are you inviting a Service Dog team to your social gathering?  it’s a good idea to give them a general situation sketch. Having a Service Dog often requires you to decide if you want to put yourself in the situation or you just need to “pass.”  For example, some Service Dog Teams may decide it’s ok to take in a zoo while others want to avoid the animals. —It depends upon the Service Dog and their job.


We entered a restaurant with a party of nine. Goodee quickly went to her appointed place under the table. Despite the smell of food Goodee did not beg, instead she went fast asleep. However, her slumber was short lived. She detected migraine pain and began working to get my attention. It is her job to alert me and see that I get to my medication and safety. “Oh great,” I thought “all these people and I have a migraine.”

“Think, think, oh gosh not now.” My scattered thoughts were interrupted as the lady next to me noticed Goodee.  “Oh pretty doggie, may I pet, please oh now could I?” The lady continued to beg.  “Sorry not now, she is working,” I indicate weakly as the migraine attack hits me head-on.

“Oh really, the dog is working?” the lady asks. “Yes,” I indicated in hopes that this would satisfy the inquiry. “Oh really she is working well… The stranger who thought we were fast friends continued a narrative on the definition of work. I did my best to tune out as I was still trying to find a way to discreetly medicate my pain.

“This couldn’t possibly get worse,” I thought to myself. Then, Goodee continues to escalate concern for my migraine. She knows if I lay in cold darkness I get better so she often urges me to seek out ideal locations.

“Oh the doggie touched me!” the table neighbor announces. “Oh see, she is smelling my dog,” the lady continues. “Leave it,” I advised Goodee. She quickly complied. “Oh it’s not ok for her to smell me?” the lady asked. --- “Education, education,” I thought to myself.
 “The lady doesn’t know you have a migraine, just reply to her,” I told myself.”

 “No, it’s not ok for a Service Dog to sniff while they are working,” I advised.  “Oh the dog is REALLY working”  “OMG! Are we continuing this circle logic?”” This is a nightmare,” I thought to myself.
“The Service Dog helps me with balance,” I continued  (thinking detail might assist in the overall understanding.

 “Oh you are not balanced right now?”” “But, you are sitting down” the inquirer continued.
 Finally Team Goodee excused ourselves for the evening.  In this instance retreat was our best option.


A large group of friends recently invited us to a movie.  Upon arrival, one friend said in concern “Oh will the dog be able to get into the movie?””  I didn’t call ahead.”
“Of course she can it’s not rated R”.  I joked, quickly explaining the law. . This place of public access indeed is required to admit a Service Dog.

I was happy to provide access education. Most people just don’t know the law. Then another obstacle came into view. Old, broken, high curbs lay ahead. “Find the ramp,” I advised Goodee. --- Surely, oh please…  Goodee looked in dismay. There was in fact no ramp to be found.
 Team Goodee realized we would have to go in search of the handicap access. We were prepared to do so. We finally located the ramp and began backing up. 

Suddenly, one of our friends yells, “Hey DD what’s wrong with your dog? I thought you said she was trained!”   Laughter breaks out from the group and strangers begin an on-looker circus.

“She IS trained!” I thought to myself. I used all my restraint I realized the person yelling simply does not understand Service Dogs or how they work.
In this instance Goodee was doing her best with what she had. She used her skill to get me to handicap access. . We have lot of ways to take care of ourselves. We did not need sideline comment or yelling.


At first it was a source of frustration but I soon learned to just laugh and move on. It often happens in social settings that we are asked to provide the entertainment. Here are some examples:
“My daughter isn’t feeling well, could she just pet the doggie”
“Could the doggie call my little boy? It might help him sleep”
“Can the doggie help with clean up?”
“Can your dog find my keys?”


Many times people feel stuck for conversation when they see a Service Dog.  Stories tend to roll out. I often hear of a childhood dog or a friend of a friend who has a Service Dog. Dog stories are interesting but there’s so much more to me.  If you are searching for an “ice breaker” consider weather or education---Anything but “The Dog.”
For the Service Dog Team familiar settings are often worse than strange ones. You don’t want to offend your family, friend, or co-worker so you do your best to adjust. The end of the day often finds you and the Service Dog exhausted from a series of encounters.


The Service Dog is a professional tool meant to be in trained hands.  The Service Dog Handler must be the one to decide when and how to work. While most Service Dog Teams enjoy social settings, the Service Dog is not a “social creature. “Distract the Doggie,” is not a party game. In fact, distraction of any kind can be dangerous.
“Isn’t the dog trained? They just shouldn’t be so delicate!” You may think. ---Well, you are a trained human. You are trained to do work in many settings. Do you ever find yourself distracted by a text, phone call, or Facebook? Probably so! It’s like that for the Service Dog they are trained and have a certain tolerance for distraction but the best of dogs can have a bad day.
Even in the social situation, please remember:

Not Now We Are Working!
GoodeeWorks Productions

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Service Dog Distraction: Woof, & Other Senseless Actions


“Goodee the Service Dog, what are you doing?”

"Making a BLOG, what else do you think?”

 “I’m not sure Goodee, but I don’t think a human typing a blog ever looks or sounds like that.”

"It's my version of  blog typing  mom.  Humans pretend they are dogs. Why can't I pretend I am a human who is blogging?"

"I think that's reasonable Goodee. Do you have an example of a human trying to be a dog?"

“Well the other day this guy in Wal-Mar.  oops no specific mentions in our blog .  I know I’m on it mom.  “
“Anyway, this guy he was doing all kinds of crazy things that he thought looked and sounded like a dog.”
“Like I said mom when we were in Wal—Mar., oops. I mean when we were in the store just going past him he did weird stuff.”

“What kind of stuff Goodee?”

“Well, like throwing his head back and saying ARF & WOOF. —Things dogs just don’t do.”
“What did we do Goodee?”  Well, I think you looked at him but I just went right past him.”

My Service Dog Goodee is right.  We encountered a guy that made all kinds of noises the minute he saw Goodee.   At first I wasn’t sure the purpose for all the noise.
I heard him tell on-lookers:  “Oh I was just trying to aggravate the dog.”
He was successful in aggravating the human but the professional Service Dog was not distracted.

Service dogs must be able to ignore all distractions while doing their tasks Hours of training goes into making sure the dog is fit for their intended use.


“Besides noises, are there other things that bother us, Goodee the Service Dog?”
“Yes mom, people coming too close to us and people trying to get my attention.”
Goodee is correct people often walk around us or run ahead of us making noise trying to get “the dog” to look at them. Often they will follow us all over a store. . Some adults tell their children to follow us. as if we are an amusement ride.

“Why shouldn’t people come too close to us Goodee?”

“Well DUH Mom!”

“Goodee don’t be silly. Stop using that Urban Dictionary. We are trying to talk to our friends”

“It’s not a good idea to come close to a Service Dog and their handler because the handler needs lot of room. They may fall or have another condition that requires lots of space.  If the Service Dog is in training or just over-stimulated they might become distracted. Furthermore, the Service Dog may think you are trying to harm their human and become protective. “

“Right Goodee.” “What do you suppose would be another reason people shouldn’t try to get your attention?”

“I’m a SERVICE DOG not a PET! I’m not paying attention to them and I don’t belong to them. I am busy WORKING and don’t have time to socialize.”

Service Dog Goodee is both direct and correct. I often need Goodee to help me walk or balance. Some Service Dog handler’s need their dog to retrieve items or observe medical conditions. There’s often no time to meet and greet others.


Sometimes people will practically stand on their head trying to get Goodee’s attention. Goodee ignores them and they continue behavior that looks and sounds silly. Some behaviors make no sense and are a danger to others.

“You would think people would be smarter than that.”   “Goodee the Service Dog!” “Don’t be rude.” 

“Just sayin’ mom.”

“There was a store employee once who bent down and called “here doggie,” as if I was going to go to him.” ---PLEASE! “I’m on a leash attached to someone’s arm why would I go to someone else?” --- Furthermore “Here doggie, is not in my vocabulary.”

“Right Goodee,”

There was another store employee instance where the employee threw a bite of shrimp on the ground and called to Goodee as we passed by. “Leave it,” I advised Goodee. We moved past with no interest. The employee looked up in dismay. This type of behavior makes the floor dangerously slick and often frustrates the Service Dog and their handler.
Perhaps the most discrete distraction is the store employee who looks down and continually makes faces trying to gain the dog’s attention. This can disrupt the dog from work. --- It also shows poor customer service skills. The human Service Dog handler should be addressed. The dog is an important medical tool, not a toy for your entertainment.

I’ve read of instances where people try to disrupt the Service Dog to create noise in the interest of complaining and getting free services.  I also know some people like to show of their communication skills. –Others are simply desperate to see a dog.


Team Goodee finds many wonderful people as we travel. The situations in our blog are often the rare situation selected from thousands of things we have encountered.
We strive to be an educational Resource not a rant.
If you need assistance finding information about Service Dogs, please contact us.

On behalf of Service Dog Teams everywhere to al forms of distraction we say: “Not Now We Are Working.”

GoodeeWorks Productions

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Give us ROOM!: Social Distance & the Service Dog Team

Recently in research I found humans value social distance. Harvard University Business Press has many publications about the importance of managing the correct distance in business dealings. The amount of “personal space” needed varies from situation to situation and culture to culture.
The need for a “zone” is also true in social settings. It is noted Americans like a distance of greater than 12 ft between themselves and the next person. —Only our “intimate zone" is less than 2ft(See Social distance (nd) retrieved 12/4/11 from

“Boy lots of people like to get intimate with us”

“Oh hello Goodee, the Service Dog. I didn’t know you were blogging today.
” “GoodeeWorks Productions, Goodee that’s me!”

"OK Goodee, I know as a working dog you must have an opinion

“How much space does a Service Dog & their handler need?”

“Well it depends on lots of things mom”
“Oh I see Goodee, you mean the human's needs change from time to time?"

“Well yes and only the Service Dog & their human (handler) will know how much space they need at any given time”

“Hmm, this is a tough situation Goodee.”

“How are others supposed to know the correct amount of space to put between themselves and a Service Dog and their handler?”

“I don’t know mom even you got that wrong!”

Ok thanks Goodee the Service Dog. Don’t you have other work to do?”

“NOPE! I’m YOUR Service Dog and I’m always working for you. Even when you and other people don’t know it”

My Service Dog Goodee is correct. I recently advised friends to allow us a space of 6 Ft .in all directions. I then found we often need more space.
It is ALWAYS a good idea to give the Service Dog & their handler lots of SPACE. —12ft or more is wonderful.


Goodee the Service Dog is specifically trained to help me with items, both visible and invisible. Her help is visible to all when I need balance. It is possibly less obvious to the untrained eye when Goodee calculates distances and signals me that it is safe to step downward. It is totally invisible when Goodee alerts me to the onset of migraines as much as 4 hours before I feel the symptoms
Service Dogs are often trained to guide their handler around obstacles (that includes any human) in their path. The dog has no way to know that you just want to stop and chat.

I know Goodee looks friendly and loveable. People naturally want to squeeze her like a stuffed toy. —“

"You mean like the soft Charmin tissue.

“Goodee no specific product endorsements in our Blog.”

"Ok, Squeezable, irresistible.”—“BUT”


“Correct, Goodee!”

"you are not a normal dog for people to approach.” “You look like other dogs but you don’t interact with people like other dogs.” “You don’t seek out treats people, or other dogs.” “You are on a mission.” “You don’t expect people to touch you when you work. “

“Oh mom, you should tell our friends not all Service Dogs wear clothing or identification in public.”

“Oh you are so right Goodee. Most Service Dog Handlers do have signs on their dog indicating they are a SERVICE OR ASSISTANCE DOG but not all do.

“So it would be a good idea for our friends to avoid all dogs they see in public?”

I think that’s a good rule Goodee.”

There seems to be an unwritten expectation in our culture that all dog owners are friendly and want to talk endlessly.
Service Dog Handlers are people with captivating, intelligent dogs. The Service Dog Handler is often a special individual who has overcome life-long or sudden adversity. --So why wouldn’t they want to stop and talk to you?-- After all, you are a friendly on-looker, you want to be polite and ask to pet their dog?



On a recent shopping trip I had ignored Goodee the Service Dog all day as she signaled that I might experience a migraine attack. “No, we aren’t having a migraine today. I won’t allow it, I told her.” Parental tapes played in my mind. “ my imagination..!” “It will get better just continue working!..”
Team Goodee navigated through the suoer-center. I said, “let’s get mom a cool rag. I’m not feeling well.”

Goodee’ looked expressively, SO I HAVE BEEN SAYING ALL DAY!”

We found cool water. I wiped my face.
“Better,” I thought to myself.

We exited the restroom---

along comes a mother and daughter pair....

“Oh doggie!” “Ask if you can pet the doggie.” “Look at the doggie!” the mom says excitedly. Her voice begins to ring in my head as I see an aura.
Goodee the Service Dog, right again I am in fact having a migraine attack.

Well!...” HMM HMM HHHAT HMM “ the strange mom type says in obnoxious tones echoing in my head.
“MY DAUGHTER IS ASKING YOU A QUESTION!” The stranger continued –Her attempts to get my attention grew LOUDER & LOUDER inside my migraine wrapped head.

Goodee the Service dog attempts to back up but there is simply no place to go. The strange woman and her daughter have us pinned against the wall.

I am looking at the strange twosome blankly. All I can process in my head is a high-pitched noise. I finally realize the little girl wants to know if she can pet Goodee.

Goodee the Service Dog has a vest with two clearly visible patches announcing SERVICE DOG WORKING DO NOT TOUCH. —Yet the stranger exceeds intimate space standards in hopes that she and her daughter are the exception to my written request.

Goodee was finally able to position herself between the strangers and myself. We moved forward to a couch... The room was in a spin. I tried to speak to the stranger several times but words would not come from my mouth.

In this instance, Goodee the Service Dog worked without my verbal commands. She is observant and skilled.

She needs SPACE. She is a WORKING DOG not a WELCOME DOG.

she needs to be left to her tasks.

Later, I told friends I regretted the situation. In four years of working with Goodee I have never before just been unable to speak.
I love to talk about service dogs and what they mean to the lives of others... Unfortunately, We are unable to be an interactive “Show & Tell” exhibit.


A recent trip found us (Team Goodee) in a busy airport during a weekday morning commute. The line at the security checkpoint was both long and busy.
A TSA Agent called to my attention that I had forgotten to remove my coat. I attempted to spin around quickly. Despite the efforts of Goodee the Service Dog I lost my balance and fell to the ground.

Goodee immediately went to work keeping people away from me. She looked at me awaiting a preparatory word,. She knows I will advise her when I want her to accept my weight and help me up.

However, this time I was unable to speak.

Suddenly six people were trying to circle me. Goodee was doing her job keeping them back. One by one the strangers offered a hand up.

Finally I was able to catch my breath:

“No, please don’t touch me! Don’t touch the dog! I said in an excited tone. ”

Team Goodee stood up, bruised but not broken.

A TSA Supervisor came around and asked, “Do you need anything?”

In frustration, I looked at him and said:

“Yes. I need to get on the plane with my dog and get to my destination on time.”

The Supervisor continued his inquiry,

“Do you need medical help?”

“Oh no," , I thought I can’t spend an afternoon here trying to get another flight.

"I want to go home. Let me have my chiropractor!"

"No sir," I said aloud "We just need to go."

In this instance on-lookers thought we needed them to move closer but we needed: ROOM, SPACE, A “ZONE” to execute our plan.


There are places to pet dogs.
There are places to gain education about Service/Assistance dogs.

In these specific locations people and dogs are ready for you to pet and ask away. , In normal day-to-day travels it is best to put space between you and any dog you see.

If you must travel near a Service Dog … Please, do so silently and allow at least 12 ft between yourself, the dog, and the handler..
Feel free to comment or email. If you see us out & about we may have to say:

“Not Now We Are Working”

GoodeeWorks Productions

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Service Animal Access: The Good The Bad & The Fake

“Hey Goodee, I got you the I-Pad2 you wanted.” “Cool mom Goodee the Service Dog loves Apple stuff.”

“How do you know it’s a real I-Pad2, Goodee?” “Mom we probably don’t want to talk about specific products in our blog.”
“I just know because it looks like one. I trust you too mom.” “You wouldn’t lie. It looks like an I-Pad2 and you say it is so I believe you.”

“You are right Goodee, there are things that make a product look right on the outside but you sometimes just have to trust the inside.”
It’s like that for Service Dogs too. “What?” ---AUGH!

“Don’t look so stunned Goodee you Google more than I do” “You know there are people who fake service dogs..”

“NO WAY!” People try to fake us?”

"Yes Way Goodee.”

"People who have no need of a Service Dog, even people with star status brag about having Faux Service Dogs."
“Faux, that’s the fancy word for fake” Right Goodee that means something that looks like a genuine product but it’s not. Sometimes the copy can be real convincing.”


Like my Service Dog Goodee I am appalled to find that people fake disability and a Service Dog for the sake of bringing the dog along with them. Some seem to get an amount of excitement from being an impostor.
We don’t see many other Service Dogs in our travels so I can’t say we have seen the problem. However, I read that the fake service dog is a fashion statement in certain parts of the country.

The word about the fake is… Yes. --- Appalling, Yes... Predictable. Unlawful…Yes
It boggles the mind to think someone would claim they have need of a Service Dog when they don’t. I say, “Why can’t they just be happy that they are without impairment?” Well, I ask the same thing about people who use Handicap Parking without a permit, or Handicap Accessible items without a need. I think some people just like to push limits.


Since 1980 The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) has been defined and redefined by all branches of government to provide protection against discrimination. The focus is on inclusion in major life activities without undue financial strain to the disabled individual.
In the context of the Service Dog this means there is not a list of tasks , breed listing, , or certification requirement for the Service Dog or handler. There’s no license fee or ID Card.

I know some business owners would like a standard ID. However, I wonder how many people would like to show an ID every time they shop, park, or use the restroom? Would we consider charging a license fee for the individual needing a motorized chair or diabetic test strip? – These items allow a person to come and go freely without worry of their limitations. It’s hard to tell if someone needs these items. It’s easier to take someone at his or her word. –It’s also a much more customer friendly policy to allow the items for everyone who says they need them. Fees and regulation are unwelcome.

The person who needs a Service Dog often has financial barriers so it would be wrong to charge a fee. Some Service Dogs come from organizations while some private owners are able to train their dog in Service Dog tasks. –By either method the Service Dog should be clean and well behaved.


A quick search revealed some suggestions for spotting a real Service Dog. “GOOGLE!” “You mean, Google”
“Yes, Goodee we use Google but there are other search methods.” "OK Goodee in the interest of the real article, accept no substitutes we use ---Google."

There are several lists that state the real Service dog: is not restless, doesn’t jump or bark, will obey handlers’ commands, will perform tasks, and will lay passively when instructed. This describes the good Service Dog. What if your dog is having a bad day? What if the Service Dog and human are being bombarded by strangers and the dog is over-stimulated Well, then the good Service Dog might just be having a bad day.

What should you do if you can’t tell the real from the fake?

It’s best to give everyone the benefit of the doubt. The business owner can make limited inquiries but will have legal concerns if they incorrectly discriminate against a Service Dog handler.


“That’s not one of them dogs.” “That dog is helping the blind lady.”

These are two common situations for team Goodee. People see Goodee’s vest marked “SERVICE DOG” and immediately make assumptions about my abilities and me. They see Goodee, a friendly looking Aussie who is fairly small compared to other breeds used for Service Dogs. They make assumptions about her.

“Boy they should see our friend the toy poodle.” “OK Goodee you are right she helps her mom with anxiety disorder but she doesn’t look like any of the breeds people usually see doing other tasks.” --That doesn’t make her less of a Service Dog.

My limitations will not allow me to use gear that some people normally associate with the Service Dog. I'm not blind so devices that assist the blind are of no use – This means Goodee’s outfit doesn’t match up with what people are expecting. I have polite responses for inquiries. “Yes, she is my Service Dog,” I say. “I’m not blind’

some guide material notes that fake handler will often become upset and threaten to sue. Well, I am a “for real” Service Dog handler and on my best day I’m polite but if I have had a full day of challenges I can become quiet upset.

However, I don’t threaten lawsuits. What I really want is to go about my business like everyone else.

Most of the time I will stop and educate.

I will admit twice I have been pushed by people who were so sure they were right. We were just trying to meet friends for a business meeting. “NO DOGS,” we were advised by the clerk behind the counter. Goodee let out a sigh, and looked at me knowing my panic and adjutation was about to increase.

I did not threaten a suit or raise my voice. "I don't have time for this today."-- I thought. "Can't people just learn the law?" I quickly drew my cell phone from my hip pocket and called the non-emergency number for the local police. I followed this call with an additional call to the U.S. Department of Justice ADA Line.

Just like the Service Dog, the handler may be having a bad day.


Education is the key. Just take time to recognize that people, disabilities, and dogs come in all shapes and sizes. Also, please... If you don't need it. Don't fake it.

Fake Service Dogs make it difficult for the real ones out there. –Not only are they less than behaved the handlers set false expectations.

The pet handler who allows people to touch and play with their dog becomes my worse enemy. They have done me as much of a disservice as if they took the handicap access ramp out from under my feet. ---
How could that be?

Well, consider this situation--- I need my service dog to walk ahead of me and balance me when I stand. She supports me just as if she was a cane or walker. --- Not that much of a trick right?

But... in the grocery while scanning shelves along comes on-lookers. Despite our uniform patches “SERVICE DOG WORKING DO NOT TOUCH. --- Here comes the questions… 1, 2, 3… 12(usually every person in the cluster will ask a question)…

“May we ___ Pet/ feed/ look/ touch/ call your dog?” – Then when I say a polite: “Not now she is working.” I get “the look” from 1.2. 3… 12 people. Why? Well sometimes it’s because at some point a faker has allowed them to play with the dog like a toy.


I was born into a world where individuals with disabilities were put aside. My parents were advised by experts to institutionalize me. -- After all Cerebral Palsy at it’s worst was assumed to put a person in the “unable to educate” category. My father often said he wanted to send my college tuition bills to every expert who said that
I saw my family struggle to get access on my behalf. I was glad to see the ADA provide Federal guidelines.

Let’s not create barriers in the form of fees and regulation.

Fakers will always be out there.
Don’t just get angry… Educate.

OK “ HOMEWORK!” “Mom, no yelling. That’s not nice. It’s additional reading or references.”

“You are right Goodee the Service Dog.”


ADA Regulation & Technical Assistance Materials

(Publications are available in standard print as well as large print, audiotape, Braille, and computer disk)

Teaching your kids about when it's okay to approach service dogs By Christy Howard

We love to communicate with friends. However, when we are out and about we need lots of space. If your question is about touching, or talking remember we must say:
“Not Now We Are Working”

GoodeeWorks Productions

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Job Has Gone To The Dogs: "Working"

My hips often freeze on hard surfaces causing me to go to the ground suddenly. My poor vision means I may not see obstructions, holes, or even helpful items like ramps or automatic doors. Goodee helps me with all these items. The Service Dog finds items for me and keeps a barrier between me and anything she views as atypical. She comes alert at the first strange smell or sound. --- In fact, Goodee the Service Dog is always working

She accompanies me everywhere. The pharmacy is one of our most frequent stops. Goodee knows the exact route to the waiting area. We take a seat on the couch and await my prescriptions. Goodee’s appointed station is just in front of my feet. She gazes in all directions looking for anything out of place.

This week a cluster of little girls came right over. —It often happens Goodee the Awesome Aussie has a friendly face. Her golden eyes invite inquiry.

“May I pet her?” one girl asked nicely. “Not right now,” “She is working.” I replied. The young lady let out a sigh, gave a disappointed look and moved away. “The dog is working” the young girl tells her friend. —Then the girls look at each other, give a look back at Goodee and Collectively say “THAT DOG IS WORKING?”

Recently upon exiting a mall a lady ran ahead of us. I thought this person was in a hurry and felt badly for being in the way. We seated ourselves on an outside bench to wait for a taxi. The lady came back around and positioned herself in front of the bench
Goodee was attired in her usual vest. “WORKING SERVICE DOG DO NOT TOUCH it clearly announces on both sides. “May I pet the dog?,” the lady says. “Sorry, not right now,” “She is working,” I replied.

Looking down at Goodee and then back to me the stranger took an argumentative posture. -- “Working huh?” the lady said, blowing cigarette smoke in Goodee’s face.

Just then my friend came up and did me the favor of stating that she had seen Goodee and I work together for years and yes in fact Goodee is working even when it may not look like it.

When we began going to the office I encountered the question “What does the dog do for you?” I gave a full response because I know my employer is only trying to be helpful and assist in mitigating my limitations.

“This dog does all that?” one supervisor said looking at Goodee as if an animal couldn’t possibly have that kind of intellect. “YES” in fact she does I quickly announced. (“She serves me better than most humans.”—I thought to myself).

These situations illustrate something that is commonplace among people of all ages. --. The human mind associates seeing a dog that is sitting, laying, standing or walking with the pet dog that we know and love

Pets are wonderful. We have many pets ourselves but we would like to take this time to talk about the working Service Animal.

“Not me, I’m playing “ “The human is blogging.” –Only the human is talking about Service Animals, Goodee the Service Dog wants to play with the cats they are PETS you know” – OK, Good point Goodee. You have time off when we are safe at home. You play with our PETS. The PETS are not specifically trained to do tasks mitigating a disability so they must stay home while we go out.

If a person sees our cat laying down it is not “working” because it is not trained to alert to strange noises or put a barrier between me and a stranger but you Goodee the SERVICE DOG are trained to do that. In fact, even when you are playing you observe me and come over to do your job.

“How do you do that Goodee the Service Dog?

“It’s a professional secret mom.”

OK Goodee I know some things are best left to professionals but, we could give our friends a small idea of what WORKING DOGS do.

There is no exhaustive list of tasks for the Service Dog.

WORKING means engaged in a task specifically designed to mitigate an individual’s disability.

Goodee observes me and knows when I need to change positions to prevent my muscles from become too tight. —So as we sit she is watching.

While walking if my lower back tightens my hips will grab hard surfaces causing a fall. Goodee walks with me taking cues from my pace. She knows if the day is good or bad. She knows when my hips must stop and rest.

To on-lookers she is “sitting” or “walking” or “just sitting/ walking” as some strangers say. - ---“Well the dog is just_______(sitting, walking, standing, laying), so may we pet her?” “Sorry, she is working,” I reply.

While most people think of a Service Dog for someone who is blind or deaf, it’s important to note that Service Dogs can be used to mitigate many disabilities both visible and invisible.

My friend Sue Kindred at Guardian Angel Service Dogs ( recently talked with me about Service Dog tasks She noted Service dogs are used to mitigate Epilepsy, Type 1 or Type 2 Diabetes, PTSD, Seizures Traumatic Brain Injury, and Spectrum Disorders such as Autism, Aspergers, or Social Anxiety Disorder.

“Let’s give them additional reading.” “HOMEWORK!” “Goodee, that’s not nice we could just call it references”

OK, here it goes…


For information on the training of Service Dogs:

“Working Like Dogs: The Service Dog Guidebook “ by Marcie Davis, Betty White

The life changing effects of a Service Dog:

New York Times Best –Seller “Until Tuesday: A Wounded Warrior and the Golden Retriever Who Saved Him" by Former Captain Luis Carlos Montalvan (with Bret Witter)

Information on Service Dog Access Requirements:

U.S. Department of Justice ADA Business BRIEF: Service Animals

If you have questions concerning the ADA and service animals, call
U.S. Department of Justice ADA Information Line at (800) 514-0301 (voice) or (800) 514-0383 (TTY) or visit the ADA Business Connection at 

If someone you know needs a service dog for an invisible disability, please visit

You may come upon a Service Dog Team and even when you least expect it they may have to announce:
“Not Now We Are Working.”

GoodeeWorks Productions

Thursday, November 17, 2011

'Tis the Season: Wishes of a Service Dog Team

The automatic door slid open. I was in a daze nearly unaware of our entrance into a local retail Super Center. Goodee the Service Dog finds the ramp and triggers the door
My mind went through my grocery list. I tried to acknowledge the greeter and wake up. Wait is that---seasonal decorations “Oh my,” is it really that time again?”

Team Goodee is ready for the holidays. As Kevin McAlister said in “Home Alone,” “This is it, don’t get scared.”...

We know holidays can be stressful for everyone. You may see a Service Dog Team. We would like to present a few reminders for your consideration:


I searched the shelves of a local hardware store. When I didn’t find what I needed I went to the front counter. The lady at the Service Desk saw Service Dog Goodee and began to babble, “Oh pretty doggie, aren’t you sweet...”

“HELLO, human with checkbook, HERE” I (thought to myself). The Clerk went on with Goodee for over 10 minutes not even looking at me. Goodee takes care of lots of things but I still sign checks.

Service Dogs assist with many items. Humans have disabilities both visible and invisible. Don’t make assumptions. Throughout our travels I have had people talk about me in third person as if I’m not even there, talk to Goodee and then just keep moving. I’m glad people admire Goodee She is fantastic but, Im still my own person.

I have a Service Dog and I have disabilities, I should not be identified by either. The Service Dog handler has a name and should be addressed just like any other person.


Service Dogs boldly go where PET dogs do not go. You may see a Service Dog in a restaurant, movie, or store it’s important for store employees to know Service Dog access requirements.


When you see a Service Dog Team it is good to admire quietly at a distance. Disturbances may distract the service dog or cause undue disruption.



Goodee has many tasks and we never know when her skills will be needed.
I’ve had people try to argue with me about the definition of “Working.”
Please recognize that a Service Dog handler knows when their dog is working.
In fact it may look to you like... Sleeping, sitting, walking, running, or talking…
Talking Well, you get the idea. A Service Dog is ALWAYS working unless the handler says they aren’t.


A super-center employee put seafood on the floor and then called to Goodee. “Here Doggie.” “Leave it,” I advised and Goodee past right by. Nearly every week one or two people offer things to Goodee. Some things are healthy others are not. Goodee loves her vet but we don’t want any unexpected visits.

Most Service Dogs have special diets. It’s a good idea to ask the handler before offering any food. Please don’t feel badly if your offer is turned away. Service Dogs go many miles in a day and cannot stop for every good morsel.


The Need for Handicap access is great during the holiday season. Please take this into consideration in the parking lot, restroom, and other areas.
I did not think about handicap access prior to having a Service Dog. Now team Goodee is wider and heavier. We try to wait our turn and stay in our lane. We often encounter people standing and talking while we are trying to come through.


You may see a Service Dog on an airplane during your holiday travels. It’s important to admire the dog at a quiet distance. The closed in space of the aircraft may present challenges for the Service Dog Team.


I know it's difficult for people to realize that Service Dogs have their own system of helping a human. A third person in the mix is often an unnecessary distraction for human and dog.

It is always nice to offer help but. please don't feel badly if your help is not taken. Team Goodee has it's own signals. No amount of telling us the way is clear, or leading us will cause us to move. Kissing, clapping, snapping, and calling are all unwelcome noises. Goodee does not move unless she knows I am ready to move and it is safe to do so. --The dog is not listening to you so please don't try to get their attention.

This year we have visited lots of Service Dog Friendly merchants. We would like to thank you for taking time to know the law and apply it correctly.
Happy Holidays everyone. We would love to hunt bargains and chat but,….



Sunday, November 13, 2011

Food for Thought: The Service Dog & Dining Pleasure

Being early for an appointment is not good. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. --- Well, OK actually I just love doughnuts so that’s why I recently stopped in a local shop.
Goodee the Service Dog climbing out of her seat leads me to the handicap access ramp. I had a sudden flashback. In previous times I fell in this very spot. It’s too high, my hips lock and I crash to the ground. I snap back to reality, Goodee forges ahead. The Service Dog provides extra balance and compensates for my impaired peripheral vision. —, There’s no more access problem. “No problem,” I thought to myself.

We entered the doughnut Shop. The wonderful smells hit our noses. We stayed 3 ft away from the counter, Goodee looked forward more concerned with the clerk than the food in the display counter.

UAH… Long pause--- “That’s a dog!” The young clerk says. “Yes, she is my Service Dog,” I replied. AHH---Long Pause---“But, there’s food,” the clerk replied. “As if I don’t know that.”(I thought to myself).

Goodee’s head came up quickly as she looked at me, rolling her eyes. I am familiar with --“the look” Goodee dislikes upset of any kind. Any stress from me goes instantly down the leash “
“Education,” I thought to myself. “not upset” “not a barrier” “just education.” I hoped Goodee would understand I am not displeased with her. My frustration comes when I have to explain the same material 60% of the time.

I explained to the Clerk that Goodee is my mobility from point A to B and that the ADA requires Service Dog Access even to areas with food.
It was clear to me that the Clerk had been taught local health codes. The only thing missing in her training was the Service Dog Exception.

One receives startling results with a Google of any fast-food chain and “service dog access.” Not only have Service Dog handlers been asked to leave in less than polite ways, they have been assaulted.

Recently we took in a day of horse racing. I am continuously amazed to see the things I can do with Goodee that I couldn’t do without her. I was able to climb 3 flights of stairs quickly with her. In the past I needed a handrail and someone at my side to move slowly.
Well, no more access problems. Everything is great.

But then---

A Food Services Manager told me I would need to move away from other patrons to “feed my dog.” – “You mean, my Service Animal,” I replied. “Well yes, we make exceptions but you will still need to feed your dog away from the people and food.” I advised the Manager that this was our third year to attend the event. In years past, there was never a problem with Goodee eating her dry food in her dish under the table. I said that I would be glad to call the US Department of Justice for advice on what was “reasonable access” in this situation.

The Manager said “whatever” throwing his hands upward He later sent a waitress to tell me we had permission to do whatever we needed to for Goodee’s well being. I was so glad we came to an understanding because this was a 13 hour day for us.

The next day I received an apology phone call from the Facility General Manager with his pledge to go over ADA Access requirements with his staff.

The Service Dog is a medical device for both ADA and Federal Tax purposes. — Everyone should think of the Service Dog as a necessary item-- Perhaps a special medical appliance that requires delicate care.

Would we say: “leave your walker outside?” How about, “leave your anxiety medication, or glucose test strip outside while you eat”? -- Well no., Of course not. We wouldn’t want to single restaurant patrons out just because they have special needs.

It is like that for the Service Dog Team. We each have disabilities both visible and invisible mitigated by the specifically prescribed medical device.
Remember my scenarios above. -- In each instance the aid of the dog allows me to do something I was unable to do without her. She is necessary for me to perform ordinary tasks. She is not an amusement or accessory.

If you have questions about ADA Service Animal Requirements, Contact: U.S. Department of Justice toll-free ADA Information Line:
800-514-0301 (voice) or
800-514-0383 (TDD).

We visit many Service Dog Friendly establishments. To you we say “Thank you.”

You may see us out and about in your favorite food spot. We cannot allow ourselves to be distracted even for a few seconds. We love to say hello. However, please understand we may have to say : “Not Now We Are Working.”


Sunday, October 9, 2011

Service Dog Access: The Law & Good Customer Service

Recently I ventured out to meet Facebook friends. I brailed the world with Goodee the Service Dog. Well, not before making 7 calls to the airline to make the reservation.
However, the day arrived Service Dog and human navigated successfully through two airports. Flight crew friendly Hotel wonderful. Desk Clerk smiling, room service outstanding --- “
Everything is going right this trip.” I thought to myself.

Just then Goodee opened the laptop. —The Service Dog has a serious Facebook addiction

. “No dogs in the hotel” “ Are they serious?”
“Goodee, stop talking I am trying to read my book.”
“But mom, our Service Dog friends are in the lobby and they are being told --- “No Dogs, in the hotel.”

“OMG” I screamed. Goodee the Service Dog was right. —

Luis Carlos Montalvan( & his Service Dog Tuesday posted to their FB status that in fact they had problems checking into the hotel.
Fmr Capt. Luis Carlos Montalvan is a highly decorated Army officer, has a New York Times Best Seller, and one of the most recognizable Service Dogs in the U.S. yet, the hotel says: “No Dogs.”

Luis & Tuesday have toured the country this year for the sole purpose of helping others. They were not there for pleasure. They came to deliver the Key Note address for the Invisible Disabilities Association( Honor Banquet. This was all lost on the hotel clerk. She says, “No Dogs.”

This made me feel horrible. We had enjoyed the hotel all day. “No Dogs,” really? In fact every other Service Dog Team checked into the hotel with no “misunderstanding”

This is an example of both unlawful action and poor customer service. The fact that Cpt. Montalvan & others similarly situated had totally different experiences illustrates the bulk of the problem. - - Companies assume that all of their employees know Service Dog Access Laws when in fact they don’t

Access: What’s the Big Deal?

I was born with Cerebral Palsy a disorder involving brain and nervous system functions. Simply put: my brain works faster than my physical body. I often experience a lack of balance or inability to climb.
For years I have experienced what I call “after thought access” where the ramp is at the back of a building away from other customers. Often I struggled up steps because my poor peripheral vision would not allow me to see the handicap access ramp

“Goodee, find the ramp.” My Service Dog goes right to the ramp built into the side of the building. Right away I see the access and I feel Goodee’s movement towards the indentation. My mind, eyes, and hips move in perfect harmony forward. The slight step downward that use to cause me a fall is now of no concern. I can do this on my own! No more having to wait for two people to escort me through a door. No more barriers. Goodee the Service Dog goes everywhere!

All places of public access= Everywhere (unless dog = threat to others).

—This is a simple formula that should be easy to apply
In most cases, just allow the dog and handler and treat them as you would any other customer. ---This is easy to learn and apply, right?


Goodee the Service Dog gets up the ramp with the human and----
“Excuse me Miss, No Dogs” “Excuse me Miss, No PETS.” --- or the stronger “I can’t have you running all over with you PET!”

After years of barriers I finally get a Service Dog to assist me with the barriers. We break through the barriers to find. --- Another barrier that of human ignorance (lack of knowledge).
For anyone who needs education here is Service Dog Access in a nutshell:
A service dog is NOT A PET. The Service Dog is a MEDICAL DEVICE under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Local PET laws including food ordinances do not apply to Service Dogs.

The events you are about to read are real. The names have been left out. Names don’t matter. Sadly these events happen every day across every industry:

• A taxi patron is told she must put her Service Dog in the trunk.
• An airline employee asks a Service Dog handler to “check” their dog with the baggage.
• A Disabled American Veteran is told she can’t have her Service Dog in her apartment.

Are these events legally wrong?

You bet!

Why do they happen?

–lack of education.

How can we fix this?

Well, the Department of Justice has taken lots of legal action over the years and it has helped but lawsuits are not always the answer.

I have enough free flight coupons and hotel vouchers to take several expense paid vacations. Why? Because every time I have ventured out of the house a company has had an employee that denied my Service Dog access or tried to charge me a fee for having the Service Dog.

I accepted apologies and I have taken items offered as a gesture of good will. I have also asked that the establishments re-train their staff on ADA & Service Dog access laws. —In most cases management tells me that their employees know about Service Dog access--- oh really? That is not exactly true is it?

If I am having to talk to you at Midnight instead of sleeping in my hotel room then there is still education to be done!

Why am I making such a big deal one Customer Service Manager asked me? After all he reasoned that I was already in the hotel being served. --- Only one of his weekend Assistant Managers yelled at me in a crowded hallway to “get my PET out”—then she repeated “IT is STILL JUST A DOG,” after being shown the Service Dog designations on Goodee’s vest

“I like to give everyone the benefit of the doubt.” The manager said. “What you had was not a legal problem it was just crappy customer service.” --- “OK, you have me on that one.” It is “crappy” so don’t you think it would be a good idea to get it addressed ?“

“The big deal” about Service Dog When a person experiences barrier after barrier everyday, it’s more than just poor customer service, it rises to the level of mental anguish.

When we are out and about you may see us with an intense look. Looking ahead or behind in search of access, ready for human challenges we must say:

“Not Now We Are Working!”


Monday, September 19, 2011

Distraction: The Cute Not Only Looks Silly It's Dangerous to the Service Dog

"Do not Distract." “Do not pet” “SERVICE DOG.” “Isn’t this redundant? “ I thought to myself. The day was approaching for me to receive my Service Dog Goodee from her breeder/ trainer. I wanted to make sure we had what we needed. I wanted to make sure Goodee liked her job and had tools for success. I was so new to the concepts. I thought, “ If I ask someone not to touch,” won’t they know not to distract us?” “Isn’t touching the same as distraction?”

I met Goodee and it was clear she loved me and wanted to work for me. I didn’t understand, I had always been with her in a safe setting where everyone (except me) understood there is a difference in a SERVICE DOG and a PET.
While petting, talking, and gawking are all OK for a PET, the same behavior is dangerous for the SERVICE DOG and their handler.

Petting a service dog is certainly a distraction. There are other avoidable distractions. No one likes a list of “can’t, “don’t” and “shouldn’t.” However, in the interest of education here are a few real life illustrations for consideration:

At a large local retail store I was standing in front of the pet food looking for an item. Goodee turned because she felt the vibration first. She is constantly on alert for things that may be a danger to me. Suddenly I hear “DOG!” or maybe “DAWG!” shouted by many small voices. I turn and try to brace as 12 children of various ages run towards me. I hear many shoes hitting the concrete at a fast pace. I try my best to stand but I feel this rush of wind and then fall to the ground as the children run on both sides of the dog.

“Oh my goodness Goodee.” “Thank you for helping me I know you tried your best and if you had not braced and allowed me to fall against you it would be so much worse!” Goodee accepted her commands right away and helped me to my feet. --- Then, I see a lady with same 12 children with her (no exaggeration I counted them).

The lady brought the children back towards us. Goodee and I looked at each other in astonishment. I didn’t know what to make of things. --- First the kids knock us to the ground then this lady wants to bring them all back to see us?

The lady and children looked at me. Then looked at Goodee. Then, the lady says “Isn’t this a pretty dog and I am so proud of everyone no one touched!
“Grr I thought as I swallowed hard and said “Thank you,” I could feel the bruises forming from where my skin hit the hard floor. The impact caused a whiplash to my muscles and a shifting in my bones. It took 2 professionals 4 office calls in the following week to get me back to “normal.”


On another shopping trip I had hands full and dropped my pencil. Once again Goodee took her orders and allowed me to balance “Handy,” I thought. Goodee was working to retrieve the pencil when a man came from across the store. “Pretty doggy” “oh poor baby you are making her work.” Goodee totally ignored the man not only did she retrieve the pencil she helped me get things organized in the cart. — “She is such a pro!” I thought, “You can’t beat this.”

At this time dog and handler are still ignoring this strange man who is still talking “doggie” “doggie” “doggie.” Goodee rolls her eyes as only she can. I was almost in an LOL! ROFL! Formation. The man finally clears his throat and says “I said: it’s a pretty doggie!” “I understand sir.” “Thank you, we are pretty busy right now.”--- I didn’t want to be rude I just want out of there.

HE DID NOT TOUCH but the man was a DISTRACTION for human and service dog. He wasn’t DANGEROUS but he was SILLY!

Goodee now has a routine. I tell her before we go into stores: “We are going to see some silly human tricks.”

I can only imagine what Goodee is thinking about all the calling, and gesturing people choose to do. People laugh at themselves as if it’s cute. Some noises are not cute or silly they are dangerous.
I understand we must cope with a certain level of noise to be in public but I wish people could experience what it feels like to be perfectly balanced and then have balance torn away from you as you go one direction and the Service Dog has their focus torn away to another. In most cases Goodee will look at people and roll her eyes in an attempt to get them to leave our space.

Goodee is outstanding at her job. She ignores everyone but me. She ignores all words and sounds except her special words. Still there are times that the noise level distracts us both. —Especially in some large retail settings where 60 people at once say DOG! (I am not exaggerating the count I count on many trips. It’s a game Goodee likes to play now). I wonder, “Do people think I don’t know she’s a dog” “what exactly is the purpose of saying DAAAWG! Aloud?”

The Pursuit: The Distraction in Disguise

Some people love dogs and some are curious. I try to understand. Still part of me says I didn’t get a Service Dog to be on display. I didn’t get a Service Dog to entertain. Actually I just needed some help moving and balancing.
We have learned about—The Pursuit.

Sometimes team Goodee goes miles the other direction just to avoid on-lookers. I figure the fewer distractions the better. I want Goodee to know she is successful. I want her job to be as easy as possible. She is disappointed when there’s a problem. Goodee wants to please me at all times.

Many times in a large retail shop people will see us in one area and follow us to another just to see us again.

Once a man followed us through a mall. He caught up to us and said “Here doggie.” I don’t know what he had in his hand but he was offering it to Goodee. I quickly said “LEAVE IT!” and Goodee moved on. The man continued the next time we stopped he repeated the process. “Sir,” I said in a flat tone. “She is not allowed treats but thank you!”

“What’s the dog’s name?” A Large Distraction for Dog & Human

“What’s your dog’s name?” – A pretty harmless question and after all people are just trying to be friendly. Why not reply? Well I learned that people soon call your dog by name if they know it.

I was going in a store with an automatic door one day when someone exiting the store yells “Hi Goodee.” “Goodee hesitated and we nearly lost footing in the door. I then realized that the young lady who called Goodee is a clerk at another store where we shop. It’s nice that she likes Goodee that much but I really need Goodee’s full focus to be on getting me from point A to Point B. —She is a SERVICE DOG not a PET.

Conversation: Welcome to Some, Distraction to Others

Imagine all of the private spaces you visit. Places you need to visit to feel better, get away, maybe do some business and go home.

Now imagine, every time, every day, without fail when you go to these places you have several total strangers running up to you, glancing at you asking. ----
“What’s the dog’s name?” “What does she do for you?” “How long have you had
Her?”… Etc. etc.

I was not ready for the instant conversation a Service Dog generates. At first I tried replying to every question fully and honestly. Education I thought, “I owe it to people to help them learn about Service Dogs.” I would come home exhausted. Goodee was exhausted and any humans with us also felt the effects of the day.

I’ve learned I have to educate as I can. I no longer try to apologize for being a little tired or out of sorts when someone wants to quiz me in a Dr. waiting area, pharmacy, restaurant, hotel, bank, or hairdresser. ---After all these are private spaces.
Service Dog Teams have times that they can sit and enjoy conversation with others and times that they are busy or don’t feel well.

When we are out and about to all forms of distraction we must say:

Not Now We Are Working!


Monday, September 5, 2011

The Service Dog is on Duty: Humans Need Not Apply

Labor Day morning my Service Dog Goodee came to my bedside. She put her head on the covers and waited for my direction. She could tell it was not a normal day for us. I had let her outside then returned to bed instead of my usual work routine.

I gave Goodee her “off duty” directions. “Are you sure?” she quizzed me. “Up,” I said, giving indication for her to jump on the bed. She leapt and was happy to enjoy free time with me. —Yet she was still on alert She knows her job runs on a 24/7 /365 time frame.

Goodee has many abilities on her résumé. Much of what she does is at my direction. However, she must work independently when my condition requires it.
Goodee and I have learned to work together. She has learned to compensate for my inability to calculate distances (I was never good in Math). She knows when I can “glide” with her and when I need to slow down. She knows the art of negotiation when I have forgotten to ice down injuries. She insists upon a chair and ice for the human.
I have humans in my life that help me. ---Some would work for me on holidays if I asked. However, today I realized even though I make sure we have a good time. —Goodee the Service Dog truly never expects a vacation.

I spent years with my disability never having a cane, or walker for balance. –They just didn’t work for me. People may not realize how I had to compensate. I spent my days at a disadvantage, having to move slowly falling and struggling through. Sometimes people would offer help, sometimes not. --- I had no outward symbol of need until I got my Service Dog.

After 10 years of walking the halls of an office building suddenly people want to bring me things and come over to my desk so I don’t have to go to the trouble of walking a distance. I am thankful for the offers of help but Goodee the Service Dog is on the job.
Sometimes in our travels total strangers will stop and ask if I need help. Usually I take an accidental spill while out and about. Since Service Dog Goodee is on the job I am able to refuse other assistance. I always say “thank you we have it covered.”--- I can tell it’s hard for some people to see me on the ground. It’s hard for them to see Goodee as a specialist but she is. While a human may jerk something out of place, Goodee knows I will give the command when I am able to roll. She accepts my full weight and helps me to safety.

There have been adjustments among friends. I know it’s hard for people to recognize Goodee as an extension of me. Sometimes people have expected me to leave Goodee aside. – As if she is an accessory, a neat belt or purse.

It’s bad news for people when they shout out “Hey, DD Did you bring your handicap parking tag”? I say, “No, Goodee and I love walking!”—There is a look of astonishment as Goodee and I walk the four city blocks enjoying each other’s company. Sorry, thanks to Goodee and a great medical team you may no longer have your reserve parking space. I will use handicap parking when I need it but when I’m feeling well we want the exercise.

The Service Dog brings a feeling of ability and independence. There’s a great amount of pride in doing “normal” things.

Certainly, if you see someone struggling it is polite to offer help. However, if your offer is refused do not feel badly. Even on holidays, Team Goodee often says:



Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Please Don’t Ask: We May Not Want to Tell: Service Dog Etiquette In Public Places

“What does she do for you?” I hear this question from total strangers every time I walk into any building, for any reason every day all day all year. --This question never takes a holiday!
One might think this question is about an Executive Assistant, A therapist, or a maid. Actually, it’s about my Service Dog Goodee.
Goodee does lots of things for me. Many of the items she does are included in the occupations I mentioned above. However, I’m sure she would tell you herself:
1. We don’t have a maid
2. Goodee picks up things.
3. Goodee IS an Executive Assistant of limited scope
4. Goodee does not do windows.
It is odd to see a dog where dogs don’t usually belong. It’s a childhood game we learn. Our brain may automatically ask: “Which one does not belong?”
I know it’s funny to see a dog in: a church, an office, a restaurant, a pay phone, or public rest area—So why not ask?
I know animals that do human things fascinate people. —So, why not ask?
In certain legal situations limited questions may be necessary. The legal reply is limited in scope and purpose. ---The purpose is to assist the disable human with their needs.
You may want to help the disabled person the best way you can so why not ask?
You may want to ask: “May I help you?” that would be great but please not---
“What does she do for you?”
This question nearly always requires a follow- up (or two).
If the Service Dog Team stops to reply to one question it appears rude to not reply to a follow-up (or two, or three, or four)
If the Service Dog Team replies to your questions it appears rude to the person behind you to not reply to theirs.
If people behind you don’t have questions frustration sets in. You stop people. (Often in a narrow passage.). –--Then starts a public traffic jam that resembles a circus.
Think of the things you need to do each day. The Service Dog and their human are trying to do the same things in the same amount of time that you are. –Often at a physical disadvantage.
The Service Dog is paired with the human so that disability becomes ability. The impossible is now possible.
What happens when “the circus” comes into the picture?
The disabled person experiences a barrier, an additional disability. ---
Now the disabled person has to navigate themselves and a Service Dog through “the circus.”—Why? : because someone asks “the question” and “the follow-up question(s)”

“What does she do for you?”
This is an opportunity for teaching. —So why not ask the question?
There are many resources that allow you to learn about Service Dogs.
You will find there is not an exhaustive list of replies for the question: “What does she do for you?”
Each dog is different. Each handler’s need is different.
Imagine if someone asks you: “Why do you brush your teeth?”
Not such a personal question. You won’t mind doing a quick reply.
Now, imagine if someone asks you: “What do your glasses do for you?”
Oh and “May I wear them?”
“Oh please! Just for a minute”
Well, that’s still not so hard.
You may not mind allowing a trial fitting
After all -- --“shades” are cool and they may remind someone of old “shades.”
Remember, they may never get to see another set of “shades” like yours.
Now, image if someone asks you: “Why don’t you have children?” and “ Well have you tried to have children? “
This question is a little more difficult and personal, right?
In the examples above the reason for the glasses may be obvious, but the reason a person is childless is not obvious at all.
The follow up question about glasses doesn’t require much and may even be fun The follow up question about your childless status may be complex, painful and sad.
It’s the same with disability
Just like you a Service Dog handler has his or her own comfort level.
Your question may remind someone of life long barriers.
Your question may remind them of a perfect life disrupted by injury,( often in the line of duty to their country).
Your follow up questions may require medical detail they are not even legally required to share with businesses or employers. --- So, they may not want to disclose it to a total stranger in at a crowded mall,
Service Dogs are fantastic. Your admiration is appreciated. However, please understand: There is a proper time and place for everything
In public we often say: “NOT NOW WE ARE WORKING!”


Sunday, August 21, 2011

Yes, The Dog is working: Commonly Misunderstood Service Dog Vocabulary

On Saturday morning I was enjoying the breakfast buffet at a local hotel. I chatted away to family. The leather leash of my Service Dog Goodee comfortably fitted to my wrist. Suddenly my conversation was disrupted as I hear Goodee rise from under the table. She came out and shook her head briskly. The rattle of her dog tags stopped all conversation.

“Goodee, what exactly are you doing?” I questioned. --Her brown eyes looked back at me as if to question why I was so oblivious to my surroundings. Then, the man Goodee had been observing finally got my full attention.

I had a stunned look on my face,looking first at the stranger then down to the patch on Goodee’s vest

“Sir please, don’t touch my Service Dog.” “She is working. “ I gave another gaze to the large words displayed in red: “DO NOT TOUCH.
Maybe the well-meaning stranger missed the 24- inch type. Maybe he couldn’t read English. These situations are possible I told myself.

The stranger gestured to the word WORKING and rolled his eyes. “Well, the dog was just laying here.”

The man finally moved away and gave us space when I said Goodee is not use to being stroked while wearing her vest

Goodee’s vest has two patches clearly announcing “WORKING DO NOT TOUCH.” Yet, I receive between 30 and 100 request per day to “pat,” “touch,” “feed,” or otherwise distract Goodee from her job.

There are also a few that boldly touch without asking usually resulting in Goodee having to brace and prevent my fall.

Perhaps the boldest encounter I’ve had was at a local grocery. The associate began scanning my items. She glanced at Goodee’s vest slowly as if to read every word.
“Oh no, here it comes” I thought to myself. I got out my discount card in hopes that that would become the topic of conversation.

Like a title waive it came—The batting eyes before reciting the familiar and tiresome inquiry, “Oh can I pet her?”
“Sorry not right now. She is working.” I replied.

The girl raced around the counter. Pushing me into the cart, she began petting Goodee strongly. It was as if I was invisible and had said nothing.
For a person who has never been dependent upon a Service Dog these are gray areas:

How do I know if a Service Dog is Working?

Like many of their human counter parts Service Dogs are specialized labor. They move, maneuver and progress throughout a day doing things which on-lookers may not understand. The whole purpose of the service dog team is to allow the human to do normal tasks that were impossible before. The dog may mitigate something obvious to on-lookers such as vision, or something less obvious such as seizure alert. The fact is you don’t know when a Service Dog is working but their handler does.

What does it hurt if I pet the dog” (I could always ask)?

Petting (or asking to pet) disrupts the Service Dog from their primary function of assisting their human handler.
We get stopped as many as 100 times just making it through our day. We love to educate people about the joys of Service Dogs and seek out opportunities to do so. However, Please understand if we are not responsive to your questions.
You may hear a collective sigh followed by the phrase NOT NOW WE ARE WORKING!


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Service Dog Etiquette in the Workplace

My Service Dog Goodee is a constant help to me for mobility.  I often work from home so I put off any office introduction. I told myself I could do it without her. I reasoned that I should consider my peers who may fear dogs or have allergies. I thought putting the needs of others above my own was a noble cause

After two years of denial I gave in.  Without Goodee my hips hurt constantly and I have no balance. I made many efforts to mitigate my Cerebral Palsy without her but nothing worked. --- A cane made falls worse, crawling from point A to B was too slow, and posting humans on both sides of me became cumbersome.

The day came when Goodee & I ascended the ramp into my office.  We glided over rough areas; I was able to climb steps without handrails. I was amazed; with Goodee forging ahead I was doing the previously “impossible.”  I was so excited this is my ticket to productivity, a measure of “normal” in my life that has been abnormal since birth.

“Why didn’t I do this before?” I said to myself. Goodee took her place perfectly under my desk.  For several hours my Service Dog partner went undetected. Then, in a microsecond I was reminded exactly why  I hadn’t brought Goodee to the office until it became absolutely necessary. --- A co-worker gazed down and said, “Is that a real dog?”   “Yes, she’s my Service Dog,” I replied. “That ain’t one of them dogs,” the co-worker said. “Yes she is,” I said, continuing to work.  “How long has she been your pet?” the co-worker continued. I looked up and replied:  “She is not my PET she has never been a PET she is my Service Dog.”

The day seemed to go from bad to worse as workers wanted to “see the pretty puppy,” ask me questions about our bathroom habits, eating habits, and the inevitable “what does she do for you?” –Sometimes the question came in a cute format such as: “Have you trained her to do any of your work for you?” Sometimes it felt as if everyone thought Goodee was a toy from his or her cereal box. --- I heard one co-worker tell another “I’m going to have the dog come get you”

Goodee remained at her appointed station under my desk and I continued working as the comments swirled around us.  “Don’t they know I didn’t go deaf overnight?” The frustration set in “I’m still the same person!,” I thought to myself. I have a dog instead of a cane.  “The dog” and I have worked together for two years and she is an extension of me. She is a tool not a toy. She is my balance not your board game.

The ADA addresses accessibility not etiquette I seek to enlighten because all questions (even in an awkward format) stem from lack of education.

A well articulated explanation of Service Dog function and purpose can be found in the New York Times Best –Seller Until Tuesday: A Wounded Warrior and the Golden Retriever Who Saved Him" by Former Captain Luis Carlos Montalvan (with Bret Witter).   ---And so, to most questions I say, “read the book.” (Which will have you crying, laughing, and cheering).

To the one question: “What does she do for you?” I would like to say: Today while you were laughing amongst yourselves Goodee prevented me from falling to the ground twice, and detected pain in my lower back. When I wanted to ignore my needs she insisted upon my going to the ice machine so that I could get the doctor recommended portion of ice for my spine.  Towards the end of the day Goodee noticed I was not well. She put her head in my lap. I looked down thinking she needed something from me. –--It was then I saw an aura and I realized Goodee was doing her job by  alerting me to a migraine headache.

Yes, Goodee is in fact a dog but she is NOT A PET.  We want to get through our workday and be productive like everyone else so to petting and talking we must say Please, NOT NOW WE ARE WORKING!