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.”