Saturday, May 17, 2014

A Service Dog in Action

I have to admit that I’m skeptical when I see a wheelchair cripple with a service dog. I can certainly understand what dogs do for blind people. Dogs perform essential services that help blind people live a high quality of life, like making sure they don’t get hit by a bus.

But when I see a cripple in a wheelchair with a service dog, I often ask that cripple what services the dog performs. I ask because often I’d like to be able to assert my crippledness so I can take my two dogs places where no dogs are allowed. But what happens if the proprietor asks me to demonstrate whatever service the dogs perform for me? About the only useful thing they do is clean up after I eat by gobbling up whatever scraps I drop on the floor.

But when I ask wheelchair cripples what their dogs do, I usually get one of two answers. The first answer is something like, “My dog is an emotional support animal. He/she calms me down and makes me happy.” But isn’t that why everybody who has a dog has a dog? So I don’t know if that will wash with most proprietors. Emotional support dog is a redundant term.

Or sometimes wheelchair cripples tell me their service dogs perform heroic feats that make Lassie look like a puss. These wheelchair cripples tell me something like, “My dog knows when I’m about to have a seizure. So he/she knocks me out of my wheelchair and pins me down like a wrestler until it’s over.”

But that wouldn’t work for me either. First off, my dogs are little Chihuahua/dachshunds. It would take about ten of them to pin me down. And if I had a seizure my dogs would probably just freak out and run away. Either that or they’d think it was some fun new game and they’d giddily prance around in circles.

But recently I was with this wheelchair cripple who had a service dog. This guy wore a flannel shirt and he had a round belly and long beard. He was the jovial-lumberjack type. So just as I asked this guy what service his service dog does for him, a woman passed by and said, “Oooh look at that dog. He’s sooooo cuuuute! Can I pet him?” And as the woman pet the dog, the lumberjack cripple shot me a sly look and said, “That’s what my dog does for me.”

Whoa! There you go! His service dog attracts women for him! And hell, my dogs can perform that service easy. They do it every day. If a proprietor insists that my dogs demonstrate the service they perform, it’ll be just a matter of minutes before a woman comes by and says, “Oooh look at those dogs! They’re sooooo cuuuute! Can I pet them?”

And the proprietor would have to let me in. Because who can deny that this is an essential service that helps cripples (or anybody else) live a high quality of life?

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