Saturday evening we decided to try something new for both of us. Iris, Melanie and myself all trotted off to the Mohegan Sun Casino. We did this knowing there was a chance that we would not be allowed in because they are a sovereign nation and do not have to follow ADA rules. To our relief not one person asked us to leave and we walked all over the inner halls. The bells and whistles were a bit unnerving for me but Iris being the trooper she is accepted it as a new experience.
We ran into friends Nancy and Brenna and ate at Johnie Rocket's, The humans ate and Iris watch people watching her. One thing we did figure out is that you can get a workout just walking around there. We wanted to hit as many of the 21 and under spaces as we could and we did have to backtrack a few times giving us an even longer walk. We have put it into the rainy day spaces for those days that the weather is not permitting for a good walk outdoors. One of the drawbacks is the smoking which I became aware of quickly but they do a pretty good job filtering the air and since we were not in the casino proper it was not something that made me want to get out quickly.
On another note Thursday last week Mel had her first regular season lax game which did not go all that well but Iris had a blast hanging out watching it none the less. After the game the three of us went to Paul's Pasta in Groton. One of the things about having a Service Dog is that you end up having to answer lots of questions and educating people as we travel. Paul's is a great restaurant that sits right up against the Thames's river. The views are great and the food is even better. When we got there the line was not that bad which is always a hit or miss but the young lady taking names was not aware of the ADA rules on Service Dogs. She immediately told us that we could not eat there. I have learned that getting a response like that is not a dead end so in a non-confrontational voice I mention that she is a service dog which by law allows her to go into any public place. I make a point of making sure I do not ad emotion into my voice because I do not wish to hurt future service animals chance of having a peaceful meal or entrance.
Luckily for me the owner realized that there was a conversation going on (she was very nearby) and she came over and explained to the young employee that they have no issues with service animals. They then even found us a great spot where Iris could comfortably rest without worries of being in someones way. I am very grateful for having such understanding people here in the Northeast. Those times were people are not so understanding I make sure that I have access to information available to educate. Most people are very open to learning about how service dogs work and how well they are behaved. In case anyone else out there has a service animal I can recommend that using a phone or an iPod are great ways to keep forms of information. I have pdf's in all my devices and offer to let people read about what the ADA requires and also helpful hints that I have downloaded from sources on the Internet. I also offer to send an email right from wherever we are so they can further research about what their rights are.
Yes I like to make it clear that they have rights also and I am not forcing my rights on them. This alone tends to disarm whomever I am speaking with. I have never threatened to go to the police because I find that something that put's stress in to the mix and that is not good for them or me. I have however on one occasion asked that I be allowed to simply video the conversation of them asking me to leave their facility. I have only done this once but it immediately changed the way the conversation was going. They owners son changed his mind about reading the rules and allowed me to stay. After I finished my meal they came over and talked to me some more asking questions about Vetdogs and why I have the dog.
This is another area that I personally do not have a problem talking about but the ADA is very specific as to the kinds of questions we as a team are allowed to be asked. I answer questions freely because it helps in keeping peace and shows that Iris and I have a bond that could not be duplicated by other means. Learning more about what Iris does for me has never been a negative for me. Well I think that I have been on my soapbox enough today. If anyone has questions about Iris or the laws please ask anytime. I am forever grateful to The Guidedog Foundation & America's VetDogs for bringing Iris into my life. I will go to any length to help grow the awareness of the great things they do for the vision impaired and veterans.