Saturday, June 7, 2014

It's Not All Fun and Games

A lot of people seem to think having a service dog is fun.  It's really not.  Not so much.

Now, there are a lot of things about Isaac that are fun.  But those are mostly "pet dog" things.  Today I took Isaac to the lake and he went swimming and it was a lot of fun to watch him having fun.  But he was not being a service dog when he chased sticks into the water.  It's fun to buy him new toys and fun to play games with him at home.  But he's not being a service dog then.  He doesn't play with toys when he's working.  Those are "pet dog" things.  It's fun volunteering with him at the nursing home, but he's not being a service dog then.  He's being a therapy dog and pet dogs can be therapy dogs just as well as service dogs can.

I do enjoy having Isaac's assistance when he's being a service dog.  I really appreciate it when I am in line at Subway and drop a quarter on the floor and Isaac picks it up for me.  In the past, there have been times I've dropped change and decided just to leave it there because it was too difficult for me to pick it up.  I really appreciate it when I drop my keys in a parking lot and Isaac picks them up for me, because I can't just leave those there, I'd have to do it myself, and I don't like getting down on my knees in a parking lot and then struggling to get back up.  I enjoy all the time I have to do things now that I'm not in as much pain since I have Isaac to unload the dryer for me and now that my anxiety attacks are of much shorter duration since I have Isaac to bring me my medication at the beginning of an attack.

But I would call it fun to have Isaac pick up my dropped keys or unload the dryer or bring me medication when I'm having an anxiety attack.  Those are tasks that make my life easier and better and more pleasant, but they aren't fun.

I imagine someone that is unable to walk appreciates having a wheelchair so they can get around and they probably enjoy many of the places they can go and things they can do with their wheelchair.  But I don't know that they would call using a wheelchair "fun."  In fact, I imagine sometimes it's really not fun, like when they want to go someplace that is not wheelchair accessible.

Taking Isaac places where pets aren't normally allowed is not really fun.  It takes work.  I have to make sure he's well-groomed, I have to make sure I have his service dog vest and poop bags, I have to stand out in the cold or rain (depending on the weather) while I put on his vest (he stands on the back seat of the car but I have to be outside the car, I cannot reach him to do it from the front seat), I have to struggle with pushing a cart or carrying my tray of food while also holding a leash, I have to put up with people staring and pointing and talking about me and asking invasive personal questions, and so on.

I am grateful I have Isaac's help.  There are times I really like having him with me, like when I went to a doctor's appointment recently and was really anxious, and being able to pet him in the waiting room helped me feel less anxious.  I wouldn't call that fun, though.  It's just not that much fun.

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