Thursday, March 9, 2017


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.
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:


     “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: 



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).

(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.


 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.


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?


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