Dear fake service dog handlers,
You do not know me. You likely have never met me. But let me speak to you, if only for this moment, to explain why so many service dog handlers are “so defensive and gatekeeping”.
Disability is not a social game, or a place, or an activity. Neither is having a service dog.
I have often heard from those who believe that I am just being grumpy that I need to calm down and that I am being selfish by having my own dog and not letting others have theirs. This is simply not true. I am sick. No, not a cold, or the Flu, or even a curable illness. I have chronic illnesses.
They don’t go away, and though I look fine right now, there are days where I cry from pain, where I can’t physically get out of my bed because of the exahustion( oops spelling sorry). There are days when I go out in the heat and pass out because my blood is not like yours, for I have much less of it and it doesn’t know to stay up in my head and arms. I have had more needles in my arms in the last month than you’ve probably ever seen in your life.
But I don’t know you. You could have a disorder, or an illness that disables you. But there is more to a service dog than JUST having tasks, or being with you. I have put blood, sweat, tears, scrapes, pain, and a ton of time into my dogs training. I remember my first outing with Hero I was so nervous because I was afraid he would sniff someone or something and I’d get kicked out (he did not of course). But I quickly learned than the social parts of our country know nothing of the laws, and the ones that do think they can abuse that system.
So I ask you, fake service dog handler, have you ever had a syncope so dangerous that you had to be hospitalized? Have you ever had a migraine so bad that it had the potential to damage your brain? Have you ever had a migraine that madeyour entire left side go numb, including your lungs? Have you ever had scar tissue over your veins so thick that a stick hurts so bad you started to scream? Have you ever had to look down and see your hairbrush filled with hair that is falling out from being malnourished? Have you ever, at any time,had a flashback to when you were beaten, or in war, or attacked by the one person you though you could always count on? Have you ever gotten so overwhlemed by the different smells, sights, sounds, and touches that make you want to rip your head off or bang it against a wall, or that cause you to shut down completely?
And while I may not look it, my service dog is the only thing that keeps me out of the hosptial, that keeps me from livign the rest of my life in my house, bound to it because I would not be allowed out otherwise. He is my rock, my love, my guide, my alert system, my emergency responder that stays with me 24/7. He loves his job, and went through over 500+ hours of training to become the well behaved dog he is today.
I have nothing against you personally, other than your dog not supposed to be in here. I only ask that if you were to do one thing today, it would be to think about what I have said to you, and to think about the laws that are in place.
Those laws, the ADA, are not in place to allow for healthy people to take their dogs wherever they want. It is there because when you are disabled, when you have nothing left in life but the decline of your health, then the joy that we get comes from our dogs. Our dogs that pick things up for us, our dogs that tell us so that we can take our meds to abort an ER trip, our dogs that guide us, that get help, that help us change, and do laundery and walk, that help us cummunicate, that help us overcome nightmares and keep us grounded.
I do not doubt that your dogs brings you joy. But these laws are here to protect me so that I can live the same amount of life as you do without your dog. Whereas you have the choice of taking your dog with you, I am forced to, out of the will and desire to simply remain alive. I may not look sick, but that is due to my dog, and you are using the laws that protect me, to gain what to you seems tiny.
But its an insult to me, and offends me, that you do no training and just bring in your ntrained dog, when I have worked tirelessly to make sure that my dog is trained to standard for his type of job.
So please, I ask you, try to see it from my view. When your dog sniffs and narks and pees on the floor, it shows the public an idea of what they thin ka service dog is, and gives the impression that we are an obnocious comminuty. We are this way out of fear, out of a need to protect our dogs. We spend every minute in ublic hoping that we do not come across an agressive untrained dog. I have had to take Hero out of work, making me homebound, because he has been attacked. We are the way we are because we are ill, and we are sick of being treated like we have it easy, or that we are “lucky” to get to bring our dog everywhere. I am not lucky, and while I am honored and overjoyed to have my partner in crime (Hero), I am constantly in pain, constantly nauseous, contantly battling myself. I ask you to not abuse the system desinged to protect me, and I ask you to understand my defensiveness. I do not look sick, but I am constantly fighting to maintain stability. Your dog being in here puts me in danger, and puts a stain on the service dog name. Please respect us.
Please leave your beloved pet at home, and if you need a service dog… please properly train or get a program dog.