golden wheelchair

Loose Lead Walking (with Distractions!)

VSEPR was starting out with having an off day: anxiety, lack of confidence, “I’ve never heard that cue before!”, and quite a bit of lack of focus. After a little bit of patience and encouragement he rocked it in class and was able to do the “dog weave” nearly perfectly! 

This is something that has taken months of practice and patience and rewards to work up to so I am really proud of my boy! It’s hard for a dog to maneuver tight spaces and ignore new people and other young dogs! And no, he is not always this perfect and that is okay. One step at a time!

After Kylie Jenner's wheelchair photo, people with disabilities reveal the things they wish you'd stop doing

Kylie Jenner has been branded an ableist after she was pictured using a wheelchair as a prop in a fashion magazine shoot

Captured by photographer Steven Klein for Interview Magazine, the image depicts the reality TV personality in a golden wheelchair as she stares in the distance.

The image was released just days before the UN’s International Day for Persons with Disabilities (IDD), which is aimed at raising awareness of the difficulties presented by a person’s health conditions as well as the way in which society is focused around the able-bodied.

Over a billion people, about 15 per cent of the world’s population, have some form of disability, according to the World Health Organisation.

Kayleigh Millar, a 19-year-old student at the University of Chichester and an ambassador for disabled children’s charity Whizz Kidz, said the photo was derogatory to her and other wheelchair users.

“Kylie Jenner used the wheelchair as a metaphor for the limitations she has faced in her career, and that word limitation affects society’s view of disabled people.

"So now when they think of a wheelchair they’ll think of limitations.”

To mark IDD, here are six things that - like Ms Jenner’s photoshoot - those without disabilities think are acceptable but aren’t.

‘Don’t assume you can know why I use a wheelchair’

“I find a lot of people feel they have the right to know what’s wrong with me before they know me,” explains Ms Millar.

“And then when you don’t tell them they get offended. It shows that my disability is viewed as more interesting as my personality.

"That happens pretty much most days. I get at least a comment a day.”

'Don’t make people with disabilities feel uncomfortable at work’

“Disabled employees need to feel comfortable that their boss will see their talent first and foremost and not the support they need,” says Clare Pelham, the Chief Executive of the Leonard Cheshire Disability charity.

“We know from our research that when people are open about themselves, and the support they need at work, that they are happier, more creative and more productive.”

'Don’t describe my wheelchair as a limitation’

"It’s not ok when people define my wheelchair a limitation and describe it as something that confines me,” explains Ms Millar.

“Like when they call me 'wheelchair bound’, because my wheelchair is my freedom, it’s not a limitation at all. In fact it enables me to do everything I can.”

'Don’t assume I won’t travel because I use a wheelchair’

“Disabled people are neglected when it comes to motivation to do these sorts of things,” says Ms Millar.

“I was never told I could travel the world, ever, after my accident.

"Whereas since I’ve had the new-found confidence I’ve been all over the place, including America, France.”

“I was like 'if I want to do it I will find a way’. But still there’s days where I want to give up because of the way society is structured because someone will make horrible comment, or a comment that may mean well, but actually kind of knocks me.

"It makes me feel like don’t want to travel anymore.”

'Don’t use the 'r word’

“As somebody with a learning disability, I know that the words people choose to use can be really hurtful,” says Lorainne Bellamy, spokesperson at learning disability charity Mencap.

“Some people don’t stop to think about using terms that can offensive to disabled people such as the 'r word’, though it makes me feel different and not respected.  

I’ve heard too many stories from my friends and colleagues who have a learning disability about people using highly offensive words to describe them. This is bullying as language like this makes people feel worthless.  

'Don’t think I don’t have sexual needs because I have a disability’

"As a disabled person you have the same rights as anyone else to enjoy sex and have sensual experiences. These rights don’t change if you live in a care home,” says Robert Hambrook, the manager of Leonard Cheshire Disability care home in Farnham, Surrey.

'It’s not OK to think I’m not worthy of a romantic relationship’

“I quite often get told 'you’re really often pretty for someone in a wheelchair’. Does that mean I’m not pretty in other standards?” says Ms Millar.

“​I tend to be stripped of gender. People tend to not see a woman [using a wheelchair] as an acceptable woman for a relationship or a man [who uses a wheelchair] as a competent man for a relationship. I want to be seen as a worthy member of a gender and equal to my peers in terms of relationships and romantic partners.

"With women’s clothing, there’s a certain expectation that I can’t dress pretty and there’s no sexual appeal if you wear a dress. You’re expected to be a certain way and you can’t be anything else.”

'It’s not OK to assume I’m brave’

“People tell me I’m brave all the time – when I’m shopping, heading to work or enjoying a drink with friends,” says Rosemary Frazer, campaigns manager at disability charity Scope.

“Someone even told my partner that he was brave for taking me out. Our research shows that 62 per cent of disabled people say they are treated differently because of their impairment.

"This includes being told ‘you’re brave’, being asked ‘what’s wrong with you?’ being patronised and treated like a child.

"Not many people come into contact with disabled people in everyday life. So when they do, they panic, make awkward gaffes, or worse, avoid situations for fear of doing the wrong thing.

"Let’s be brave, get over our awkwardness and focus on the person, not their disability.”

This piece originally appeared on Independent.co.uk.

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Sorry about the billion gifs, I just wanted to show what a class typically looks like when raising a service dog! Raising and training a service dog is about SO MUCH MORE than teaching cues and bringing them places. It’s also about confidence and focus and eagerness to try new things.

The animatronic horse shown above startled both of us and its movements and noises scared VSEPR a little bit- he even barked, and he never barks- but with patience and encouragement he was eager to explore it and eventually even ignore it while working on other things.

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In response to a building fear over fears that the senate healthcare bill will require people with disabilities to lose access to healthcare and waiver programs that allow people with disabilities to stay in our homes and communities instead of an institution, Atlantis ADAPT protestors staged a sit in that lasted nearly 3 days in our state’s senator’s office. After they were arrested, we held a vigil at the Denver County Detention Center until their release. After a judge granted the arrestees a recognizance bond (release on own recognizance), it took roughly another 18 hours for them to be released.

I spent most of the 30 hours at the detention center holding vigil and arranged other care for VSEPR but he did come with for a few hours and did amazingly!

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Lightrail training with VSEPR and a few other dogs! He has been doing so well with all the noises and distractions inherent in public transit, I’m very happy! We also worked on cues in new places and loose lead walking, as always.

To the anons I haven’t answered yet, I will get to you ASAP!! I just try to ask around before giving out advice and that takes a while!

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Furniture Store Training!

VSEPR trained in a furniture store today! We focused on staying calm in a really weird environment, managing excitement around children (he loves bouncing and noisy kids), loose lead walking, “under”, sit/stays, down/stays, and short distance recall in new places! He was a bit stressed at first but once I gave him a few minutes to adjust to his new settings he settled right in!

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Tumblr ate this post and my answer to an ask about “get it" and “drop/give” so I will try to address you again asap anon! It just takes me 5ever to write a thorough response, much less do it twice :(


While “vest on” is a signal to VSEPR to be on his best behavior, I want him to know everything I teach him regardless of his “clothes”, so I teach and reinforce cues both with and without a vest and in lots of different places.

 We went to petsmart to reinforce cues, practice impulse control, and work with distractions too today!

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VSEPR got a slow feeder bowl today! Slowing down a dog who eats quickly can help prevent stomach upsets and bloat- a serious condition that can kill a dog.

He also practiced “place”, “flip”, and “front”! These commands are all essential to having a dog be able to fit into spaces politely and inconspicuously when working. 

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Building a Rapport with Your (Service) Dog

VSEPR was invited to attend a disability advocacy certification class with me today! I didn’t expect him to last the entire 4 hour class so I was prepared to leave after an hour but he handled himself beautifully and settled right in the whole time. During lunch, I took his vest off so he could greet some people (his favorite thing!) and after I put his vest back on, he returned to focusing right away and not responding to people cooing and trying to pet him. 


One of the more common questions I get is about my “biggest advice” to owner trainers. Aside from establishing a strong support system, the most valuable thing to any team is having an excellent rapport with your pup in my experience. Knowing when VSEPR has had enough and when he needs something (and what that thing is) means I can set him up for success most of the time. This rapport is established through everything- from trips to the park, cuddling, playing, walks, meal time, training, to outings and more… and it can be exhausting and it takes hours a day but it’s worth every minute in the end.

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Pride Weekend!

We went to Pride yesterday (without VSEPR- the crowds, noises, and more importantly heat aren’t appropriate for him right now)! 

Today, we also volunteered at an animal shelter and got to work with some older dogs <3  

Also, his manners with cats are getting much better! He’s settling in near them without bothering them, which is a huge thing for such a young, excited, high-energy pup.