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:



No comments:

Post a Comment