Saturday, September 9, 2017

Follow Up on the Access Dispute at the Nursing Home

I recently wrote about going to visit a former neighbor at the nursing home where he now lives. 

The following morning, I called and asked to speak with the director of nursing.  It took two days to actually get to speak with her and by then the nurse that had denied me access had already shared her side of the story with her boss.

The director of nursing told me that they had had someone bring a pet dog to the nursing home recently and the pet dog bit someone in the dining room.  After that, staff were told not to let dogs in the dining room, but that edict was not meant to refer to service dogs, only to pets.  She said the nurse in question did not understand this and thought that no dogs were allowed.

I believe the nurse thought she was right.  However, she was really rude about it and I did stress that to the director of nursing.

The director of nursing told me there was a staff meeting already scheduled for the end of the week and that she would be adding the topic of service dogs to the agenda.

You Can't Pet That Dog!

Today at the grocery store there were two young girls, maybe 8 and 10, doing cartwheels in the frozen food aisle. When Isaac and I walked by them, I heard one of them say "Oh, look at the dog!"

The other girl spoke right up and said "You can't pet that dog, that's a service dog!" I love it when kids know that.

Although I do think the frozen food aisle is not the best place to do cartwheels.

Monday, September 4, 2017

You'd Think a Nurse Would Know Better

This evening I had a rather unpleasant access dispute when I went to visit a former neighbor at the nursing home where he now lives. Another neighbor went with me and we have been to this nursing home to visit before with no problem. The person we were visiting was in the dining room finishing his dinner when we arrived and a nurse immediately stepped in front of me and said "The dog isn't allowed in here."

I told her he is a service dog so he is allowed and she proceeded to argue with me, loudly. She said if the health department would show up, they would get in trouble. I said no, he's a service dog so you would not get in trouble. She said it was nursing home policy. I said the ADA is a federal law that says service dogs are allowed and the nursing home can't have a policy that violates federal law. I offered to pull up the Dept of Justice website on my phone so she could read it for herself and she refused, saying it doesn't matter, it's their policy.

Her objection, it seemed, was to the idea of my SD walking into the dining room, not being in the facility altogether. I tried to explain that he is allowed in restaurants and places like that because he is a service dog and the Dept of Justice says he is allowed but she was not listening. I want to add that he has been in the dining room of this very nursing home before with no issue.

She  then walked away from me but continued arguing really loudly from across the room and it was causing a real scene.

I told the neighbor I'd gone there with to stay and visit as long as he liked, that Isaac and I would wait for him outside. I told the nurse that I would call and speak to her supervisor in the morning. And I went outside and sat on a bench to wait for my neighbor.

A few minutes later, the nurse came outside. She said, "I'm not sure how to ask this without seeming rude...."
I told her, "You've already been rude, so it's kind of late to worry about that."

She asked if Isaac was my service dog or if I was training him. I said he was mine. Then she said, "Oh, I didn't know that! That's different! You can come back in."

Then she told me I don't look like there is anything wrong with me and I told her that as a nurse, surely she knows not all disabilities are visible.

I am not sure but I suspect a coworker said something to her when I left. Perhaps she thought she better come tell me I was allowed in after all, so she wouldn't get in trouble. She did apologize and I thanked her for her apology, but I told her I still plan to call her supervisor in the morning and that I am going to suggest they provide some training for all the nursing staff.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Can He Talk?

Today at the food pantry, a little boy about three years old asked me, very politely, if he could pet Isaac. I said he could and told Isaac "go say hi," which is the command that lets him know it is OK to socialize.

When he heard me tell Isaac to say hi, the little boy's eyes got very wide and he asked, sounding awestruck, "Can this dog talk?"

Saturday, August 12, 2017

What Would Happen?

At the doctors office the other day:

Another patient in the waiting room (reading the "please don't pet me, I'm working" patch on Isaac's vest): What would happen if I pet him?

Me: I would tell you to knock it off.

Other patient: Oh.

Friday, July 21, 2017

I Am Not Inspired by Morgan Inspiration Island

Have you read about the new water park in Texas designed for children with disabilities?  It's called Morgan Inspiration Island, I guess because people with disabilities are supposed to inspire non-disabled people, you know.

While everyone is all excited about an accessible, inclusive water park, remember that this means other water parks are inaccessible, exclusive. And this one is sort of exclusive too since it's being advertised as being for kids with disabilities, instead of for all kids. Apparently kids with disabilities need their very own water park, instead of being able to enjoy whatever water park is near their home.

Would the response be the same if a new water park was opened for African American kids? Or for Jewish kids? Or for any other group? Why segregate the kids with disabilities in their very own water park instead of demanding all parks be accessible - you know, like the federal law says they should be anyway?

Monday, May 29, 2017

Regular People

A friend of mine posted on Facebook about her kitten going into heat.  Someone advised her to call the vet first thing in the morning and get that kitty spayed ASAP.  My friend replied that she has to wait a couple weeks until she will have the money.  I told her in a few days, she will be ready to sell her soul to get the money.

Someone else asked if the SPCA didn't spay cats for free.  Yet another person, someone I don't know, replied, "You can usually get it done someplace for free or close to free if you are on some sort of assistance.  Regular people, not so much." 

I was stunned.  I said, "People on some sort of assistance are regular people."

Seriously?  What kind of people does she think we are?  Irregular ones?  Are we somehow so different from those that are not on assistance?  I know people think this way but wow.  The prejudice against poor people runs so deep.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Guy at the post office: What's your dog's name?

Me: Isaac.

(really long pause)

Guy: I take it you're a Christian?"

Me (confused): Huh?

Guy: I take it you're a Christian?

Me (caught off guard and fearing he is going to try to save me): Um, no...

Guy: I just thought, you know, Isaac is a Bible name.

Me: Oh! Yes, it's Hebrew. It means "he laughs."

Guy: My mom has a dog named Brewski.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Service Dog Training Proram Shut Down, Dogs in Need of Help

K-9 Assistants for Independence was a training program for service dogs located in Texas.  The organization trained service dogs from start to finish, and they also helped people that were owner training by keeping dogs for weeks or months at a time to work on specific aspects of their training, and they also offered board and train services for pet dogs.  Just recently, news broke that dogs in the facility were being neglected, mistreated and abused.  Dogs were going home from the facility seriously underweight, sick, infested with ticks, suffering from contagious illnesses like coccidia (which causes terrible diarrhea), anemic, malnourished, in terrible shape.  They were also fearful, suffering from separation anxiety, showing signs of having been physically abused such as flinching or cowering when someone reached out to pet them.

The facility has been closed down and dogs returned to their owners or placed in foster homes.  There are probably several dozen dogs affected, though, and the cost of treating their health problems is significant.  So a fundraiser has been started to raise money to help the owners and the foster homes to care for the needs of these dogs.  Please, help if you can.

Help the Dogs from K9AI

Monday, April 24, 2017

Daddy Pup

Isaac made a friend at the Medicaid office today. It was a little boy, maybe three years old. He patted Isaac on the head and then showed Isaac his toy dinosaur. The little boy was very chatty but difficult to understand. I did, however, understand the word "Pup."

After the little boy patted Isaac and showed him the dinosaur and chatted a while, I told him "The pup's name is Isaac."

The little boy's mom said "That's your daddy's name!"

The little boy looked at Isaac with wide round eyes, like he was just so amazed that this pup could have the same name as his daddy. I could just see him thinking about it. I think maybe it blew his mind. But finally he pointed at Isaac and announced, loudly, "Daddy Pup!"

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Car Accident

New experiences for Isaac last night. We were in a car accident and I was taken to the hospital by ambulance. The EMT at the scene told me that the officers would "take care of my dog" and I said, "No, he's a service dog, he will come with me" and I was prepared to argue. I would have refused to be transported if they refused to take my service dog with me. But as soon as I said that, the EMT said, "Oh, that's good" and they were happy to bring him with me. There was plenty of room in the ambulance and the EMT told me they had transported other service dogs before. Isaac jumped up in the ambulance with no problem and I told him to lay down and he did.

Isaac has been in the ER before so that was no big deal for him. They took me to get a CT scan and the nurse asked me if my service dog had to go with me. I said "He can't stay here by himself" because of course I was not going to leave him unattended in the ER. She said an aide would take care of him for me while I was gone if that was OK with me and assured me I would not be gone long. I would not have asked staff to watch him but it was their idea. I agreed and the aide said he would take Isaac outside to go potty if that was OK with me. I said it was. He mentioned that there wasn't much grass outside (this was a hospital in a city area) and I told him Isaac would pee on concrete or other surfaces and told him to just show Isaac where to go and tell him to go potty and he would. When they were bringing me back from the CT scan, Isaac was lying on the floor by the nursing desk with three employees gathered around petting him.

I was really glad Isaac is perfectly fine being handled by other people and is not stressed by being separated from me. He seems OK after the accident, but I might take him to the vet today or tomorrow just to get checked out just to be sure. An EMT looked him over for me at the scene of the accident and then a friend checked him over carefully for me at the hospital later. It was a while before I could check for myself because I had a cervical collar on and stuff for a while. I am OK now, just really sore, and Isaac and I are at home.

The hospital and the EMTs were really great and I was relieved not to have to argue about taking Isaac in the ambulance with me.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Don't Ask, Don't Tell

Random Guy at the Food Pantry Today: What's your dog for?

Me: He's a service dog.

Random Guy: Yeah, I know. But what's he for? Like is he for seizures or...?

Me: I don't share personal information like that with people I don't know.

Random Guy: Oh, I know. I was just curious. Do you have epilepsy?

Me: Look, I'm not going to tell you what's wrong with me and I won't ask you what's wrong with you.

Random Guy: Oh. OK.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

This is Why I Don't Tell People at the Dog Park He is a Service Dog

Isaac got to play with a 9-month-old black lab puppy named Cricket today as well as with a German shepherd-lab mix named King. We went to a new dog park because it is near my doctor's office and I had an appointment and wanted to give Isaac time to run around and get tired before the appointment.

No one was there when we arrived but Isaac was happy to sniff all the new smells and pee on all the new places. Then Cricket arrived and they had fun chasing each other. Then King came and they are regulars are our regular dog park so it was a nice surprise to see them today. King and Isaac wrestled and Isaac made a few attempts to hump him but King refused to cooperate.

I was explaining to King's mom why Isaac and I were at this park instead of our regular park and she said "Oh, he goes to your appointment with you?" And I explained he is a service dog so he goes pretty much everywhere with me.

Then I followed her gaze over to where Isaac was attempting to hump her dog. When King refused to be humped, Isaac sat down and began licking himself. This is why I usually do not tell people at the dog park that Isaac is a service dog.

Friday, March 3, 2017

A Place I Can't Take My Service Dog

Tomorrow I am going on a tour of the Gentle Barn. If you're not familiar with the Gentle Barn, it's a rescue for farm animals and it's very awesome. On the tour, you get to cuddle cows and play with various rescued farm animals. I am super excited.

Because of the nature of the place, I called them to ask if it would be OK to bring my service dog or if it would be better not to bring him. Isaac would be fine there, I am sure, but I didn't know about all the farm animals there. The woman I spoke to told me everyone there loves dogs, they love all dogs, and she assured me that she was sure my service dog was very well behaved, but said that some of their rescued farm animals are not comfortable around dogs and so she thought it would be better not to bring him. 

I am fine with that. That's why I called to ask. And I understand how the presence of a SD might alter things at this type of organization and so it might be appropriate and legal for them to deny access. That's why I called to ask.  

I normally do not call places in advance to tell them I am bringing my service dog or to ask if I can bring him.  If it's a place the Department of Justice has already stated (in the Americans with Disabilities Act) that service dogs are allowed, I don't ask if I can bring him.  I don't need to.  But this is one of those exceptions.

Isaac will be spending the day at a nearby doggie daycare instead. I'm sure he will have a good time there and I cannot wait to cuddle some cows!

Monday, February 6, 2017


Today I had to go to the ER. I've never had any problems at my local hospital before, not in the ER or the lab or the x-ray department or visiting patients. But today the triage nurse asked me "Is that a certified service dog?"

I said "He is a service dog but there is no certification."

She looked like she didn't believe me and asked "Do you have documentation?"

I said "I do" and pulled out a rather tattered copy of the ADA Business Brief (note to self: put a new one in my purse) and showed here where it says businesses can ask if a dog is a service dog and what the dog is trained to do but that they cannot ask for ID or documentation.

Best service dog documentation I can carry.

I am going to contact whomever is in charge of the ER and make sure they educate their employees.  But I was not feeling well enough to deal with it today.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Dogs Don't Talk

Lady in the waiting room at the podiatrist's office: I'm not allowed to pet you, am I?

Me: No, you are not allowed to pet me.

Lady: Um, I meant the dog.

Me: He doesn't talk.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Scared to Ask Your Doctor about Getting a Service Dog?

I see a lot of people say that. Or kind of a lot, anyway. They want to know how to bring it up to their doctors and are scared or nervous about doing so.  I don't quite understand why.

Someone told me that she worried her doctor would brush her off.  I asked, "Does your doctor often brush off things you bring up to her? And if so, why do you keep seeing her? And if not, why do you think she will brush this off?" 

I mostly only see doctors that listen to me and don't brush me off. That doesn't mean they always agree with me, but if my doctor thought a service dog would be a bad idea or thought I didn't qualify, he would tell me that, not brush me off. 

I am looking for a new rheumatologist now because mine has twice brushed off something that turned out to be an illness or injury that needed treatment. I won't keep seeing a doctor that does that.

Clearly people have different types of relationships with their doctors. It just seems unhealthy or somehow a bad thing to be afraid to bring up something you think would help you to your doctor.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Leaving It

A while back, Isaac slurped up some shredded cheese on the floor at Chipotle, which earned him a remedial course in Leave It. Since then he's done just fine with leaving things, but today was like the ultimate test. We were at Chipotle and someone had dropped their burrito bowl on the floor and no one had cleaned it up. We had to walk right by the pile of rice, cheese and meat. It was in the aisle between tables and walking right by it meant almost stepping over it, there was so little space. Isaac barely even glanced at it. I feel like he nailed the final exam in the Leave It class.