The following piece was originally posted on Disability Network Lakeshore’s blog on July 29, 2014.
Life with a Service Dog
“Oh my God, your dog is just the cutest thing ever! Can I pet it?”
“You are so lucky you can take your dog with you everywhere.”
“My cousin’s friend’s husband has a black lab that looks just like yours!”
“Well you don’t look disabled.”
From the gushing puppy lovers to the skeptics, the lives of service dog handlers are full of…well, comments.
I have a degree in Assistance Dog Education, which is a fancy way of saying I went to college to learn about service dogs. Every class I took related to the assistance dog industry, and one of my responsibilities as a student was to have a service-dog-in-training with me at all times. I have experienced firsthand some of the commentary that service dog handlers hear every time they step out of their homes.
While most people mean well, the constant barrage of comments and questions can be exhausting and annoying for the service dog handler who just wants to buy groceries in peace. Most people who came up telling me stories about distant relatives’ dogs who “look just like mine” didn’t realize it was the twelfth dog story I heard that day.
My life revolves around educating people about service dogs, so I didn’t mind too much. But plenty of service dog handlers do! A service dog (or assistance dog, as they can otherwise be known) is supposed to be considered like any other equipment. Like a wheelchair or a cane, a dog is a tool that helps mitigate a disability.
For the entire blog post: http://dnlakeshore.org/blog/2014/7/29/life-with-a-service-dog
Kaitlyn Weimer provides seminars to businesses and people with disabilities about service dogs in the Western Michigan area.