Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The week in Review:

This past week was a week of slowing things down some while doing the doctors visits of course. I truly believe that one of the reasons the VA schedules so many appointments for me is they want to see Iris walking the halls, she seems to put smiles on so many people staff and patients included.

On one of our visits last week we had an experience that was quite interesting. For those of you that have my Facebook Feed this is old news but for those that do not you may find it interesting. Many times since I have had the blessing of having Iris I have had the opportunity to educate business's and individuals about service dogs and where they are allowed and how they are used. It is something I love to do and Iris makes it so easy to do. She has such a wonderful personality that disarms people and allows them to feel at ease around her.

So on with the story, Iris and I had a doctors appointment with the Providence VA Cardiologist so we approached the VA as always through the main entrance to check in. As we rounded the corner to the sign-in desk there was another person with a "Service Dog", I have that quoted because this dog was not vested nor was he under control. I immediately placed Iris in a sit to make sure I had control of her and then back out the door. I was not going to turn our backs to this other team especially since the "Service Dog" was a Pit Bull. I am not one of those people that feel pit bulls are an evil breed set on this world to do nothing but fight and bite. However I do believe the way these dogs are trained and handled will determine how they act. This veteran's method of getting control of his dog was to hit his dog with his fist on the top of the head which if you ask me is no way to treat any animal be it dog or human.

What was the outcome of this encounter? Iris and I waited outside until the person finished checking in so we would not tempt his "Service Dog" and they went on to their appointment. Once the coast was clear we went in checked in and proceeded to our Appointment. Little did we know that the wheels had been set in motion by others by contacting the VA police units and soon after arriving at our appointment one of the shift leaders came to where we were. He unfortunately was rather ignorant to the rules and regulations for service dogs and the VA. Seeing an opportunity I whipped out my handy iPad and proceeded to allow him to read the ADA and VA reg's. He ask many questions and was very interested in learning more. Iris and I have done other education seminars at this facility so I suggested that if he felt it would help that we could come back and do one for his officers.

During the time we were talking the other team actually walked past were we were and his dog decided that Iris still looked like a nice lunch snack and they were both asked to leave and escorted out of the building. The VA is not required to adhere to the ADA because it is a federal facility just in case my readers did not know that. Although the ADA does state that the Service Animal must be under control at all times and not be deemed a nuisance or danger. If it is it can be asked to leave and denied access in the future also.

We did go back later that week and do a training session with the day shift for the VA Police and it went extremely well. This particular VA has a number of Service Dogs that go through it with no issues regularly and this is the first time they have had an issue that they have had where they have had to ask someone to leave. I am grateful that it was with me and not another veteran that may not have the wherewithal to handle the stress's of dog on dog issues and ADA, ADI access all at the same time. This was a win win solution for everyone except the person the person with the pit bull service dog that is now unable to have that dog in the VA.

That brings me to my last point. It is a personal point but I feel strongly about this and hope that when people that are looking for a service dog they will take this into thought. There are no rules on the type of dog that can or can't be trained to be a service dog. Many people love certain breeds and I understand that with all my heart, I personally love Lab's and Malamutes. I know that the Malamute scares some people and when taking that into account I do not think it would be a good breed for me to have as a service dog. My service dog is there to allow me to be healthy happy and a part of the community, if I have a dog that draws attention to itself through fear because of breed I in fact am putting pressure on myself in the community I want to regain access into. In my opening sentence's I mentioned how Iris has this ability to disarm peoples fears and I think that America's VetDogs knows this and picks dogs that have this quality. Getting a well trained well suited service dog is paramount in my recovery and placement back into society. As a disabled person wanting to be enabled I need to be prepared to look past my breeds of choice and accept a breed of acceptance to really make things work well.

Ok those are my thoughts for the week. Soapbox dismounted enjoy the day it is what we have.

“We all die. The goal isn't to live forever, the goal is to create something that will.” 
― Chuck Palahniuk

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