Saturday, March 21, 2009

Invisible Disabilites

"Laurel" as drawn by Luke

I knew that having a service dog in the family would inevitably bring with it a portion of PR but I never realized how much. Even in central Pennsylvania where people are, for the most part, very knowledgable about service dogs in general, we still get lots of attention when we go out. Usually it is all well and good, but there are some things that I am just not quite used to yet.

The most frequent question that we are asked centers around whether Laurel is in training. The very fact that we are asked this question relates to the title of this post. People most often associate service dogs with those that are physically disabled. The very fact that none of us are physcially disabled leads them to assume that Laurel is only in training. I am frustrated by these questions because I don't have a good answer for them yet. Most of the time the conversations are very brief but I always feel that I have answered them inadequately. I want to have some eloquant, conscience answer that sums it all up but I don't.

Please don't get me wrong, I like when people ask about Laurel but there are times when it can be awkward. And then there are the people that don't talk to you, but cause problems just the same. On Saturday we were in Walmart and were having a particularly difficult moment. I was trying to look at something and Luke wanted to go in a different direction. He was trying to pull Laurel to go with him which is precisely why she is still attached to me at the same time. A lady came up and without saying a word to Luke or I stopped her cart and came over and got down to pet Laurel. I was completely speechless. I guess she just thought we were 'training' the dog.

4 comments:

  1. That's always difficult especially when you just want to shop and not educate the general public ...

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  2. It's a shame really. Mom and I are doing what we can with the young ones. I've been to a daycare twice and Nokie went once to educate the children on service dogs and the "dos and don'ts". You'll be surprised to know that the kids (and I mean KIDS, 2-6) know more about what they can and can't do with a service dog than the adults did! Just keep your chin up hon and we wish you the best!

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