Saturday, January 26, 2008

Out in Public...

One of the great things about being a Service Dog is that I get to go everywhere with my human partner, John. That means, as a trained SD, I am allowed to go most places that John can go into. You notice that I say "most" places. There are a few places where I am not invited, or can be denied access...more about that later. Service Dogs are considered adaptive devices, just like John's scooter, or someone's hearing aid. Just as John can't be told to leave his scooter outside, he can't be told to leave me outside. Under the law, John has the right to take me with him everywhere he goes...he cannot be denied access with me by his side. I do not have the right to go in with him...he has the right to bring me in. Service Dogs are specially trained to be unobtrusive when out in public, and we are trained to behave well in any situation.

I have been on the job a little over a year, and I have been to some great places. Some really cool places I have been to are: The National Zoo in Washington, DC; the Maryland Wine Festival; The Children's Museum of Indianapolis; The Indiana State Museum and The Baltimore Aquarium. I got to see elephants, lions and tigers and bears (oh my!), monkeys, and more incredible animals at the zoo. I was really not impressed, and just stood around waiting for something to do...even though the monkeys were screaming at me. All of the people around us were excited because the animals were coming out of their hidey-holes, but it was pretty standard procedure for me...heeling, downs, sits, etc.

On a regular basis, I go out shopping and to restaurants with John. I love going to malls...they're so busy. I duck behind John's scooter when it's really crowded and walk along behind him...people are surprised when they see my head pop around to see if it's clear. John and mom like to go shopping, so I get to shop a lot too. They also go out to eat quite a bit...which is a good chance for me to catch up on my sleep. As trained, I go under the table (so I'm out of the way) and take a snooze. I do wake up to pick up John's napkin (he's always dropping it right on me!), but I drop back off to sleep quickly. It's always fun when we leave the restaurant, and I come out from under the table...people always exclaim, "I didn't know there was a dog under there!" I know how to do my job right!
No one can deny John access, though some have tried. It's good to have a partner who is outspoken about his rights. One of the most common complaints is that I'll get hair all over the food...or that someone might have allergies. They still have to let us in's the law. We try to educate, rather than argue though...I usually show off a skill, and John has new SD cards that explain what I do for him, and has the ADA law listed, as well as a number to call for more information. These are available from

There are a few places that we can be denied access. One is a private residence...if someone wants to invite John over for a party, but doesn't want me along...they can do that. (of course John better not go!) Another place is the ICU in a hospital, and another place is certain areas of the zoo (sometimes they don't want a dog in where animals are loose in a large an aviary-though the National Zoo was very kind and let us go everywhere!)

It is fun to be a Service Dog and get to go into so many places...but it is hard work, and requires a lot of training. Being so good is not always easy!

No comments: