More Thoughts on Service Doggies

A continuation of the disability discussion:

Kathy Podgers has left a new comment on your post "Seeing Eye Dog Trumps Allergies":

I use a service dog and have met many folks who either do not want the dog present due either to allergy or to fear. here is how I try to handle it. If I am sitting in a theatre, a public meeting, restarant or class room, I first show that it is not "an ordinary dog" but a servise animal. This usually fails to work. Then, if the person expressed fear, I offer to "tie the dog up" and with a short lead I have for thet purpose, secure the dog with the panic stricken person watching my every move. My dog, smiling profusly, cooperates fully, and the person who fears my dog shows great releaf on their face, and sayt, "Thank you."

If it is a person with an allergy, they usually demand that the dog be removed. I explain that it is not about the dog but about me. I have a right, like other folks to be present, and acompanied by my white cane, wheelchair, walker or service animal. However, I express genuine sympathy at any discomfort that might happen, and explain that I have run into this situation before, and sitting apart has always been sufficient. We then can both change our seating so we sit as far from each other as possible.

In hotels they have rooms set aside for "disabilities" and I am usually put in there if they do not allow pets and have seperate rooms they let to folks with pets. However, in the general public, one can expect to come across many more folks with allergies than service animals.

I am curious about this issue, as many folks wear things that cause allergies, not just perfume, such as down filled jackets, and many public accomodations are filled with allergins such as dust bunnies filled with dust mites, mouse urine, etc. Some places even have plush new rugs, and use foul polish on their smooth floors.

Is there nothing that a person with an allergy can take when they see a dog that would avoid the symptoms from occuring?

PWD's do not usually think of their disability as trumping someone elses disability. No one is competing with another for more "sympathy." What most folks with disabilities want is independence and an end to isolation. We just want inclusion.

Therefore, why not speak to the person with the service animal, and arrange for both of you to change seating so you can get the max didtince between you.

Dear Kathy:

Thank you for your considered comment. I think you said it beautifully and poignantly when you wrote that all PWDs want is independence an end to isolation: inclusion. I think ultimately that’s what we all want.

I know for me, eating outside of my home as a person with food allergies, is a huge challenge. But still I go out because eating out can be a wonderful experience and I want to be a part of it; I want to be included in the eating-out fun!

I’ve read in other online discussions, and even in a post on this blog [see the comments sections], that some people think an allergic person’s needs are “excessive” and they shouldn’t bother to eat out or even leave their controlled environment. It’s a sad truth that not everyone gets: no one wants to just stay home.

And perhaps that night, as I was preparing to watch Borat, with the Service Dog in Training a few rows away, and worrying about potentially feeling sneezy and wheezy [ignoring the simple truth that I could have gotten a refund and seen the movie any other night, any other time] I didn’t quite get it. I think, I hope I’m beginning to now.

PS Regarding your questions, people's allergies differ. My physical reaction to animals is both allergies and asthma. The best medicine for me is avoidance. The gray area here for me was that this was a dog "in training"; the people with the dog weren't disabled themselves. If that had been the case, I think I wouldn't have made such a fuss.

Thank you for sharing your point of view!


Kathy Podgers said…
Thanks for posting my comment as a guest post. It didn't seem to attract attention or comments though.

On the issue of service dogs in training, I must admit, I too am guilty of thinking they should not be allowed. After all, at most 50% "graduate" to be successful service animals. I am able to train my own dog, so I don't have that problem.

However, it is always good to try on someone elses shoes. I wonder how a person who is blind could train their won dog. After all, they can't see the cross walk, so how do the train their dog to walk in the cross walk?

I know folks who are bling cannot take medicine to cure their blindness. I still wonder, if a person has an alergy that can be controled with medicing, why one would not use it when going into a public space ecpected to contain many allergines?

As for the food allergy, I believe each ingredient must be listed, or be made available in printed form upon request.

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