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Ms. Jewl

Fighting For Your Rights In Public

I had Tagert my first seizure alert service dog for seven  years and now I have Rocky.

 This is what I have learned.

  You have to be a fighter for yourself and your dog. When we go out to shop, run errands or eat we have trouble sometimes. People just do not understand that Tagert and I are legally allowed any where we want to go. It seems that places of business and the public are still in the dark ages when it comes to this. They do not understand that they must let us in. They are breaking the ADA and the state laws by doing this. Now this is where it becomes even harder. First I can just leave and go somewhere else but why should I .I am just like any other consumer and this is where I wanted to go. Number two I can ask the person who stopped me to get the manager and explain to them both that I can stay. In most case's that is all that is needed. Number three if they wont listen I can stand my ground and call the police. but I have come to find out that sometimes they too are on the low end of knowledge. Now number four I can call a lawyer. Well the problem I have found is that is not so easy to do. I have tried this and they just say that for them there is no money in the case, so they wont take it. I am not out for money just justice and the right to go where ever I want. I can call the department of justice and file a case but that takes a long time but is worth it. It does get the point across. So as you can see I have a tough time almost every time I leave the house.

Now there is even more ignorance and rudeness from the public. I go to a store or restaurant and you would think the human race had never seen a dog before. Dogs for the blind have been around for years, so just because I have an invisible disability, I should be treated different than the blind. You would not believe the stares and the rude remarks from kids as well as adults and as I think about it the adults are worse than the kids. Most kids don't know to put their hand down and let the dog smell them before petting the dog. Adults don't even think twice before petting, even though I have a do not pet sign on his harness.

If anyone comes up and ask a question nicely about Tagert I will be more than happy to explain What he does to help me. but lately I have gained an almost sarcastic attitude when dealing with some of the public. I had one lady walk up and rudely ask, " What's That ". Well being in a rush And not in the mood to deal with her and others like her, I just said " A Cat " and kept right on Walking. I have had some people literally run when they see Tagert. Like he is a vicious dog and will bite them as to look at them. Common sense would tell you That I could not take him in public if he was a biter but they don't think of that. That is because I have come to find out the public has no common sense when it comes to something new, that they know nothing about or have ever seen before. I could take up half an article on some of the funny response's I have received and said over the years. It just gets me mad when I try to have a nice time with friend And I get harassed by the public or a business.

I am just like any other person who wants to lead a normal life. The only difference is that I have a dog to help me do this. Tagert and I are just like everyone else. We are here and if we have to we are going to fight for that right, but why we should not have to. I would rather just get along.

What is that famous line? How do you treat a person with a disability? Just like a person. 

Choosing the Right Service Dog Organization.

A dog is a big commitment. I thought long and hard before deciding on getting a Service Dog. Do I really need a four footed friend around all the time? Taking care of him/her all the time? Can I handle the dog along with my disability? Once I said yes, the next step was choosing a Service Dog organization to train my dog.

There is a book that has Service Dog training organizations and that you can buy at any book store. If it is not on the shelf, they can order it for you. It was published in 1996, and other places have opened up but this is a start. It is called Assistance Dog Providers in the United States by Carla Stiverson and Norm Pritchett.

There are quit a few questions to ask when choosing the right Service Dog organization from which you will receive your dog. It is best to look at all the organizations you can that train your type of dog for your disability. Please do not choose the first one you find or choose one just because it may be the closest one to you. Here are 27 question's I asked when looking for Tagert.

1. What is the history of the organization?

2. How many other dogs have they placed?

3. What will the final cost be for the dog?

4. How many Service Dog teams were successful?

5. What happens to the dogs that do not make it through the training?

6. Has the organization ever been sued or fined?

7. What are their requirements for accepting me as a candiate for getting a dog?

8. What breeds are used?

9. Will they consider a breed you like?

10 Where do they get their dogs?

11 Will they consider using a dog I already own?

12 How long until you receive the dog?

13 What is the minimum age for the person getting the dog?

14 Will they consider someone with multiple disabilities?

15 How do they decided which dog is for me?

16 Does the facility do all the training?

17 What is their method of training?

18 What are the trainer's qualifications?

19 How many commands will the dog know?

20 Where does training take place: home, facility, or both?

21 How long does the training take?

22 Will you get one on-one training or be in a group?

23 Are there any other costs, such as transportation or lodging, or do you stay at the school?

24 Do I have ownership of the dog? 25 What is their follow-up program?

26 What happens if the dog gets sick right after placement?

27 Can I keep my other pets?

I do hope that this list of questions has helped you in choosing the right organization. 24 Do I have ownership of the dog?

How do we define a service dog?

There are so many people that still think of Seeing Eye dogs when they think of a service dog or a working dog. There are many different ways a dog can be of help to someone with needs.

The ADA defines a service animal as any guide dog, signal dog, or other animal individually trained to provide assistance to an individual with a disability. If they meet this definition, animals are considered service animals under the ADA regardless of whether they have been licensed or certified by a state or local government.

We are working hard on trying to get the public to understand our dogs and to see that they do indeed help. I have met a lot of people with different disabilities, and I learn more new needs every day. Let us look at some of the ways dogs help that are overlooked by many.

1. Seeing eye dogs.

2. Seizure alert/response.

3. Hearing dogs for the deaf and hard of hearing.

4. They can carry small packages or items in their mouth.

5. Help go up and down steps.

6. Help give you balance when standing for a time.

7. Help in getting up and down into a chair, couch etc.

8. They pull wheelchairs.

9. They can give envelopes with money to cashiers, banks, etc.

10. They pick up dropped objects such as the phone, car, keys, pencils etc.

11. Carry backpacks for schoolbooks.

12. They can carry your medication for you.

13. They open doors at stores and restaurants and at home, including, for example, refrigerator doors, etc.

14. They open drawers at home.

15. Turn on and off lights.

16. They assist with grocery shopping by getting things off the shelf.

17. They can help with the laundry by getting clothes out of and in machines.

18. They help with pulling people out of bed.

19. They help people get dressed and undressed.

20. They are trained for people with social phobias, such as agoraphobia.

21. They help people with panic attacks.

22. Help people that are bipolar & manic depressive

23. Ease us in a time of stress

24. They lessen the sense of isolation and cabin fever. (This is me).

25. Give you confidence to leave the house. (Me Again)

26. Help you handle being approached in public.

27. Give you the most unconditional love and companionship.

28. There are also therapy dogs. They go to see patients, and they help by letting the patients pet them.

As I have said, I had to be baby-sat before I had Tagert because my seizures were so severe. This is only a partial list. I do not know all the ways they can be of help to us. If your dog helps you in a way I have not listed, please feel free to write and I will add it to the list. Our Dogs are the most wonderful things, and I am truly blessed to have found mine.

Thank you for visiting.