Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Service Dog at Support Group

Tonight I attended a support group for survivors of sexual trauma.  The group meets once a month and is about one minute from where I live.  I am hoping a support group can, well, provide some support since I haven't been able to see a therapist in a long time now.

I took Isaac with me to the group.  He did really, really well.  One of the members of the support group is the mother of the little boy I saw at the food pantry a couple weeks ago.  The little boy that liked Isaac so much and told his mom, upon hearing that Isaac helps me to laundry, "Mom, I think maybe we need to get a dog like that!"  It was nice seeing someone I kind of knew.

The group met around a table, and so Isaac went under the table and lay down just like he does in restaurants.  The meeting lasted about an hour and 15 minutes and Isaac did well for the first 45 minutes or so, then started to whine a little.  After a few minutes of whining, I decided he was telling me he had to pee.  I took him out and he did pee, although he also peed right before the meeting and I feel pretty sure he could have waited.  I think it might have been he was just getting tired of lying quietly under the table.  However, I would much rather tell people, "I'm sorry but my dog says he has to pee right away, I'll be right back," than say, "I'm sorry, my dog is bored and I need to walk him around for a few minutes.  Hopefully after this, he'll lie down and be quiet like he is supposed to do."

So I did take him out to pee and when we came back in, he did lie down and was quiet for the rest of the meeting.  I was really proud of how well he did.

There was another woman at the meeting who said she wants to make her dog a service dog for her anxiety, but after talking to her for a few minutes, it sounds like her dog is an emotional support animal, meaning she provides her with comfort and emotional support, but she isn't trained to perform any tasks.  I told her that legally, under the American's with Disabilities Act, to be a service dog the dog would have to be trained to perform tasks that mitigate her disability.  She said, "But my disability is depression.  What tasks would she do?"  I said I didn't know, I didn't know her well enough to know what tasks a dog might be trained to do to mitigate her disability, but that legally to be a service dog, the dog has to be task trained.  It sounds like she has a friend that passes off her dog as a service dog because her friend has a lot of anxiety and feels less anxious when her dog is with her.  But that's not a trained task and doesn't make a dog a service dog.  I didn't want to argue with her about it too much, though, because that wasn't the purpose of the group.

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