Thursday, July 13, 2017

CHILL OUT! Interaction with the Service Dog Team



PREFACE:  Summer can be a difficult time for the Service Dog team, heat, and crowds bring on additional stress.
I constantly hear people say, “I just didn’t know.” That’s why this blog exists, so that people may know, understand, and educate themselves.
This post is lovingly dedicated to U.S. veterans.  Thank you for your service and sacrifice. Team Goodee is blessed to have Service Dog friends in every branch of the U.S. military, and some in the U.K., and Canada.  Social media makes the world our neighborhood.
To our military friends, thanks for teaching us to “walk in our shoes,” stand up, and speak out.

It’s hard to find ways to educate others. Giving out information when we are out and about is difficult at best.
    
“We should probably let people walk in our shoes mom.”
    
“Oh, hello Goodee the Service Dog nice of you to join the blog.”
    
“Let people walk in our shoes? Goodee, don’t you mean empathize?”
     
“No mom, you said empathize, I didn’t.  I don’t use the big words I just supply the humor.”
    
“You mean you literally want people to walk in our shoes? It could get crowded. I hate to point out the obvious but you don’t wear shoes.”
     
“No mom, I mean figuratively speaking, I want people assimilate what it is like for us as Service Animal and human.”
    
ASSEMILATE? Goodee, now who is using BIG words?”

     “Ok mom, people just need to take in our culture and fully understand what we go through.”
     “Oh, I see, Goodee, why don’t we try to explain.”
     “Right mom, that’s code for I’m going to say things that might upset people and pretend that the Service Dog said it.”

BUSTED by my Service Dog again. I am known for keeping people at a distance. I’ve had people say, “I remember you; you don’t want people around you or your dog.”

To which I reply: “yes that would be me.”

     “Well it’s not like I am an ordinary dog mom. I’m the medical device.”
   
     "Correct Goodee, you function like both a cane and a walker for me. You help with balance/counter balance and estimate distances for me.”

     “I do all that mom and more. I also tell you when to change your head position to avoid migraine headaches, I help you find a safe place and your migraine medicine... There’s a few other things too. Frankly, I deserve a raise.”
    
     “Well, I could do a few extra pig ears per week.”

     “Cool.”

     “Since I gave you a raise, could you help the blog along?”

     “Goodee to the rescue again. Why don’t we just explain to people what it’s like for us?”
     “You mean so they can empathize?”

     “Right mom, empathize and ASSEMILATE.”

WALK IN OUR SHOES

I wish people could “walk in our shoes.” It would involve much more than putting a vest on a dog and having you go out in public. Even a highly trained dog  would not simulate what it’s like for the Service Dog, and handler.
 I joined several  groups on social media before being paired with Goodee “the great” Service Dog.

I thought: “Gosh these Service Dog people need to get a grip. Why not just let people pet the dog? Surely a little eye contact, or talk couldn’t hurt.? Why not tell people about your Service Dog or disability?  They are just making conversation. —and what’s the big deal if someone talks to the dog and not to you?

In just one week with Goodee, I learned the real consequences of letting others treat the Service Dog like a pet. It took much longer for me to understand how the Service Dog changed my life.

     “Gosh mom that’s sounds epic. Are you going to be able to talk about all that in one blog?” “I hope so Goodee”

The “BIG DEAL” ABOUT SERVICE DOG INTERACTION

The Service Dog functions as a medical device. This is a hard concept to grasp. Medical devices don’t usually have fur. Let me use an illustration from my own life. ---Cerebral Palsy effects my entire left side. Everything on the left side of my body is slower and weaker. My hips freeze up on hard surfaces. Uneven surfaces are a nightmare.   My peripheral vision is so poor I cannot drive a car, ride a bike, go down steps, or walk a half block. When I look down, things seem further away than they are. I need help with stability.

 The Service Dog is AMAZING for stability. A cane is useless to me it’s just another object over which I might fall. However, the Service Dog provides constant motion to keep my muscles and hips moving.  My body stays aligned, the dog goes ahead of me, finding handicap access ramps and smooth surfaces. When I must take stairs, they are now no problem. I feel the Service Dog going downward, and my I body adjusts accordingly. On the BEST days, I can accomplish twice the number of things I did before having the service dog, and at the end of the day I am pain free, instead of being unable to move.

 The “best” days are not easily accomplished. Balance is a delicate thing. I feel the slightest shift as I walk with the Service Dog. My reaction time is slowed on the left. I may know I need to make an adjustment but my body won’t allow me to do so.  The Service dog can assist me in trying to make adjustments. -- Notice I said TRYING to make adjustments.  What could possibly prevent adjustments?

Usually it’s a person who has come upon us either in front or behind the dog. On a bad day, it might be six people who stop dead in their tracks to STARE at us. It could be the person who does a “fly-by pet,” brushing, or poking at the dog. Irritating? Yes.


NOW imagine, yourself, doing everything you do in a day but, being TOTALLY dependent upon the Service Dog for balance. No cheating, you must be with the dog 24/7. Hundreds of people per day at the bank, grocery store, place of employment, doctor’s office, hair dresser, and restaurant. —365 days per year. Now you may have some idea how exhausting these interactions can be.

Let me add detail to the imaginary exercise. The Service Dog can prevent many falls but, sometimes there is no getting around it. -- Literally people insist upon enclosing us in a circle or being at “zero line” so there is just no room to move.  We can’t move, and other people won’t move (even when we ask them nicely). Suddenly, someone directly behind, or in front of me insists upon moving by pushing past me or the dog and I end up falling. Sometimes “the fall” jars my entire spine. —This necessitates several visits to pain management.

And Now the Rest of the Story…   “I JUST WANT TO… “TALK, ASK, BE A FRIEND”

I wish I could put a shield of invisibility around myself and the Service Dog. Part of me understands why people want to chat. Before having a Service Dog, I was somewhat introverted but still friendly. Having the Service Dog has changed my public personality. The freedom to go and do things I could never do before is fantastic but it comes with a price.

Let me illustrate with a hypothetical:

You are out on a normal day. You have an accessory, “cool shades,” the accessory everyone wants to look at and talk about “Cool Shades” are so cool everyone wants to tell you about their experience, or their friend’s experience, and their uncle’s best friend and his girlfriend, and their experience with the same but “sort of different “cool shades."

 In fact, your “cool shades” remind people of the “cool shades” they lost so they break down crying while telling you about their “cool shades.” You stop and listen to story #1, 2, 3,... 10. because you understand“the shades” are so cool. While you are listening to stories and trying to be friendly people pass by “barking” and saying, “oh cool shades.”

  Can you image how much sensory overload this causes?

Neither could I, until it happened to me!

At first, I saw no harm in chatting. By the end of the first week with my Service Dog I allowed no one to pet, or talk to the dog. I learned, even if I brace myself to prevent a fall, I am physically unable to stand while 25 people (literally I had a family member keep a count for me). came to say “hello.”

There are other practicalities:

Can you imagine every errand you run taking you three times as long because you have a stranger stop you and ask questions?

Can you imagine being asked to share the most private details of your life every day with total strangers? --Medical information, so private that it’s protected by Federal Law. -- A stranger asks you about it as you stand between the toilet tissue and soap at a supermarket?

REALLY? Yes, REALLY!

This REALLY happens to me several times a week!


 Can you imagine being sick in a doctor’s office and having a total stranger "talk at you," insisting        upon being inches from you, while having their kid run straight at you YELLING, "DOG!"

Neither could I until it happened to me!

Continuing the example:

 Imagine, in addition to all the events above,  you have a physical injury,   not just on one day,  but two or more days per month.

NOW, you have imagined “walking in our shoes.”
 
Do you see how this could bet taxing?

 Do you see how a person might come across to people as “short,” and unfriendly, when in reality they are simply emotionally drained?

I hope so!

Service Dogs come in all shapes and sizes, to manage all types of impairments. Each team works differently.   Life gets scary after many “near miss” and emergency situations. The priority of a Service Dog handler is SAFETY for the Service Dog, themselves, and others out in public. The second priority is managing our own limitations, completing things in the same amount of time as a “normal” person, under very different conditions. Where do you fit in? please understand we may not be delighted when you “zero line,” pop out a camera, and/or start asking questions.

Why do we do what we do?

Together, dog and human make a great team and we do what was once IMPOSSIBLE. That is INCREDIBLE and that is why we do what we do.

The ability to do that which you could NEVER do without the Service Dog is worth ANYTHING life throws at you.

We love to hear from fans. Check out our Facebook page, or drop us an email.
Please know when we are out and about we must say…
“Not Now, We Are Working!”


UPCOMING EVENTS:

It’s Your Dime Travel has put together an accessible affordable cruise for us.

HALLOWEEN AT SEA 2018!

Cruise along with TEAM GOODEE as we explore 3 Service Dog friendly ports.

We receive no compensation for reservations. We just love cruising and want to have a few friends along.

We'll be sailing on the new MSC ship, Seaside, from the Port of Miami, through the Eastern Caribbean to St. Maarten, San Juan, Puerto Rico and Nassau Bahamas.
MSC Seaside rewrites the rule book of cruise ship design, blending indoor and outdoor areas to connect you with the sea like never before. Circling the entire ship as low as Deck 8 is a unique seafront promenade lined with places to eat, drink, shop, swim and sunbathe. And you can enjoy more superb views from the two-deck glass-walled atrium and panoramic elevators.

Come on in the water is fine!


https://www.facebook.com/events/113215115945800/




Sunday, June 11, 2017

NOT NOW WE ARE ON VACATION!






CRUISE WITH THE SERVICE DOG



Team Goodee lovingly dedicates this blog to everyone who makes us possible. It takes a medical team, family, and friends to keep us going. We are grateful and thankful for the opportunity to be out and about functioning as a team.

We now continue our vacation series: Not Now We Are On Vacation! Previously we highlighted interactions with strangers. These are intense times on any outing. The human is trying to get from A to B, or do “X”, when suddenly a well-meaning total stranger inserts themselves into your life.

 After reading that blog, you might wonder why anyone with a Service Dog goes on vacation at all. We presented the ugly examples to show how difficult things can get. Besides, irritating, but, funny people who push their limits are fun to write about.
In this blog, we highlight the cruise experience for the Service Dog Team. If you are a Service Dog handler and you have thought about a cruise, here is our advice…
YES, DO IT! Once upon a time we were looking for a few days away. The cruise is economical and accessible. Food and entertainment in an inclusive package. So, we said: Bahamas here we come! About six months later when we were on the ship with all our documents in order we screamed and did a happy dance.
        “Hey mom time, to answer the most asked question.”
     “Oh, hello Goodee the Service Dog. Nice of you to check-in on the blog. Well the most asked question is your name and I think they already know you Goodee.”
     “Mom not that question: THE QUESTION for people who never thought about Service Dogs on cruises.”
     “Oh yes: THE QUESTION”

HOW DOES A SERVICE DOG “GO” ON A SHIP?

     “It’s a good question mom I was wondering that myself. It’s like a big hotel on a swimming pool. There’s no grass!”
     “Correct Goodee Several people made that observation before we entered the sea terminal.”

So, to the guy who mumbled for 45-minutes about how they don’t let dogs on ships, and the lady who asked everyone on the bus if they knew anything about how a dog gets to “go” on a ship. ---

THE ANSWER IS: The cruise line provides a 4x4 wooden box with sod or mulch material. The relief area is on an open deck with lots of cross-wind. Service Dog. handlers should bring supplies to keep the area clean.

YES, THEY REALLY ARE GOING TO LET THE SERVICE DOG ON THE SHIP!

The Department of Transportation describes cruise ships as a cross between transportation and public accommodations. Service Dogs must be allowed to accompany a passenger in all areas of public access on the ship, including lifeboats.
A Few points to help the Service Dog Team have a good time:

PICK YOUR PORTS CAREFULLY

Only you know how many days your Service Dog can handle. Decide how often you need to see land. I have a list of destinations. I am doing them in multiple trips instead of a long cruise, so the Service Dog can visit land more often.

KNOW BEFORE YOU GO!

Each port of entry has their own dog import requirements. Consult the USDA for the latest requirements. Example: Some ports require yearly rabies vaccination, nearly all ports require a certificate of health from your vet.

GET INFORMATION FROM THE CORRECT END OF THE HORSE

Don’t try to “google it.” There’s lots of bad/out dated information about Service Dog travel out there. Don't listen to your mom's boyfriend's best friend who tried to go on a cruise several years ago. There’s also no shortage of companies that will try to sell you a pet passport that is used in Europe but not the U.S. 
I spent $60 in long distance calls to the Bahamas Dept. of Agriculture. The phone help was polite but, they were not addressing my exact question. A  wonderful person at the USDA suggested that I call back and ask to speak to a veterinarian.
 When I did it took me 10-minute to convince the person that I needed to speak directly to a vet, and 15-minutes on hold for the vet to take my call. However, I am so glad that I did that. The vet needed less than two minutes to tell me which vaccinations are actually required (out of the list of 20 on the permit). Only the Rabies vaccine is required, the others listed are simply recommendations. –My vet advised all items listed are done as puppy vaccines.

GET INFORMATION TO THE CRUISE LINE EARLY AND OFTEN

Some travel agents are more helpful than others. Service Dog accommodations are too important to be left to someone else. When you make a deposit on your cruise, notify the cruise line via e-mail that you are bringing a Service Animal. When you make your final payment, send another email confirming a relief area is planned for you.

OTHER RULES STILL APPLY
Before flying, notify TSA cares by email or phone https://www.tsa.gov/travel/passenger-support
Also, consult the airline about bulkhead space for the Service Dog. Remember, the Air Carrier Access Act allows impaired persons to be accompanied by a Service Animal at no additional cost.

EXPECT ANYTHING

Cruise ships are a mass of humanity.

THE BAD: More people = More questions/ interaction attempts with you and the dog. The first day it was like being in a big shopping center. “what’s your dog’s name,” how cute,” etc.
     “Don’t forget the guy who got right in my face and barked mom.”
     “Yes, he was unforgettable and alcoholic impaired Goodee.”
THE GOOD: The ship is BIG and you soon find little areas of escape away, away, away from people if you need to.
THE EXCELLENT: The sea and beach are right outside. —They are the only thing outside for a day or more.  Entertainment is included.  Your stateroom is a home away from home.
     “Better than home mom. I mean bed turned down twice a day, meals by a chef, who has all that at home?”
     “Correct Goodee, a cruise is better than home!”

DON'T SAY NO!

There are a number of well-meaning able-bodied "normal" people who will say:
"You shouldn't go," "We wouldn't go," and my favorite: "Are you sure you should go alone?" You are the only person who knows what you can do with your Service Dog. Cruising is accessible. If you need assistance just ask. Above-all DO NOT TRY to go without your Service Dog.  Don't try to substitute something for your Service Dog just because someone who has never had a disability or a Service Dog, suddenly wants to give you advice. You need your dog and you have a legal right to mitigate your disability and enjoy your vacation. 


Up-coming Service Dog Friendly Cruises:

PAWS WITH A CAUSE 2018 CRUISE January 21-18, 2018
PAWS provides Service Dogs to people who need them at no cost to the client. During this bi-annual fundraising event Royal Caribbean will make a generous cash donation to PAWS for every state-room purchased. 7-days in the Caribbean on the Allure of the Seas. For information contact: ddavis@pawswithacause.org.

HALLOWEEN AT SEA 2018!
October 27-November 3, 2018
Hosted by Your Travel Dime Dream Vacations & GoodeeWorks Productions
Join select group of travelers to celebrate Halloween at Sea 2018! We'll be sailing on the new MSC ship, Seaside, from the Port of Miami, through the Eastern Caribbean to St. Maarten, San Juan, Puerto Rico and Nassau Bahamas.

MSC Seaside rewrites the rule book of cruise ship design, blending indoor and outdoor areas to connect you with the sea like never before. Circling the entire ship as low as Deck 8 is a unique seafront promenade lined with places to eat, drink, shop, swim and sunbathe. And you can enjoy more superb views from the two-deck glass-walled atrium and panoramic elevators.

To celebrate Halloween, we're planning a private party with costume contest and entertainment.

Some cabins include unlimited drinks, onboard credit, spa services and priority boarding. Cabins start at $349 pp, double occupancy plus taxes and fees.

Our friends at Your Travel Dime put this together for us. Team Goodee is not receiving any compensation for promotion. We just want to check out the MSC SEASIDE and thought we would invite a few friends along.

For information contact: bmiller@dreamvacations.com
Visit on Facebook:

Thursday, April 6, 2017

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


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

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

Disclaimers:

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


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

Here we go…”

TEAM GOODEE: THINGS THAT MAKE US WANT TO SCREAM!

     “Our survey says…”


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

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

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

What happens when people get too close?

     “The chiropractor has an unexpected payday.”

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

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

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

I was speechless so I will reply now:

Dear adult who left children unsupervised,

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

*People who insist upon “helping.”

Example: Dear stranger who thinks I am blind,

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

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

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

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

Example:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Example: 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Example:

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

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


Teachable Moment Example #2: 

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

WE ARE NOT WITHOUT SYMPATHY

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

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

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

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

BE PREPARED FOR OUR HONEST REACTION

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

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

Example 1:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Example 2:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Well I was just being friendly.”

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

Dear flight attendant,

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

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

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

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

 "Spirit Airways home of clueless airheads."

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

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

We enjoy fans—

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

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

or if we are lucky…

“NOT NOW WE ARE ON VACATION!”

Stay tuned we promise another Vacation blog is coming soon.

--DD & GOODEE THE SERVICE DOG






Thursday, March 9, 2017





NOT NOW WE ARE ON VACATION!


This blog is lovingly  dedicated to the memory of: 

Dr John C Schmidt, DO. (Doc)


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

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

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


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

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

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

YES: THEY REALLY ALLOW “THE DOG


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

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

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

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

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

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

     “Everything is in order, thank you.”

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

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


WHY CAN’T I PET?


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

SERVICE DOG SEEN IT, MOVE ON


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

     “I think he was intoxicated mom.”'

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

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

     “Yes, Goodee I had to.”

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

I stood up and said:

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

After this there were fewer on-lookers.

WE DON’T KNOW YOU SO GIVE US A BREAK


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

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

 “My name is DD.”

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

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

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

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

     “Sorry not right now she’s working.”

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

     “I wish I didn’t have to.”

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

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

IN CONCLUSION


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

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

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

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

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

Come back next week when we address the popular question:

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

---DD & Goodee