[tabi] Re: Servicedogs come with responsibilities

  • From: "Shelley Sawyer" <seabelle913@xxxxxxx>
  • To: <tabi@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Tue, 10 Sep 2013 21:50:24 -0400

I whole-heartedly applaud this article. Thank you, Sila for sharing. 

Shelley Sawyer 
  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: Sila Miller 
  To: tabi@xxxxxxxxxxxxx 
  Sent: Tuesday, September 10, 2013 8:21 PM
  Subject: [tabi] Servicedogs come with responsibilities

  "From the Columbus Dispatch, Sept. 8,
  2013; reprinted with permission of the author."

  Deborah Kendrick commentary: Service dogs come with

  A lot of people in Oxford, Mass., are pretty stirred up
  right now about a restaurant owner, Russell Ireland, who
  greeted customer James Glaser and his dog at the door and
  told him the dog wasn't welcome.
  Glaser is a retired Air Force veteran and Jack, his Jack
  Russell terrier, is his service dog.
  From Facebook and Twitter to threatening phone calls,
  sympathy seems to be pooling pretty much in Glaser's
  camp.  People are outraged that a restaurant owner
  wouldn't know that service dogs are protected by the law
  and wouldn't show respect for a veteran. They have
  reportedly threatened his establishment and his life.
  The reactions seem excessive considering the crime. And are
  we even sure that a "crime" was committed?
  I worry that the implication of this incident will be
  I don't know James Glaser or his dog, but when Ireland
  says that the dog smelled bad and ate from a person's
  plate and that the dog didn't lie unobtrusively out of
  pedestrian traffic as other service dogs have done in his
  diner, well, it raises some questions.
  Dogs are trained to do remarkable things and have a proven
  track record as support partners for people with a variety
  of disabilities.  The most visible ones are the dogs
  trained to guide blind people.  Others alert deaf handlers
  to a baby's cry, a doorbell or an intruder.  People with
  epilepsy and diabetes express gratitude for their dogs'
  abilities to detect changes foreshadowing  seizures or
  insulin shock.
  James Glaser had his dog trained by a San Antonio
  organization called Train a Dog, Save a Warrior, where dogs
  are specifically trained to provide a calming influence for
  veterans experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder.
  That organization's website supports the same standard of
  conduct espoused by other reputable training
  organizations.  To be acceptable in public accommodations
  as a service dog, an animal should be clean, well-groomed,
  calm and unobtrusive.  It should not vocalize unnecessarily
  and should respond quickly to such basic obedience commands
  as "sit" and "down."  It should remain with its
  handler and not solicit attention from others.  Oh yeah,
  and it should go potty on command in appropriately
  designated spaces and should eat only its own food when
  given by its human handler.
  Now, these are my words, of course, but they are a fair
  enough representation of what the Texas nonprofit serving
  veterans with PTSD and any other self-respecting service-dog
  training organization will tell you.
  The Americans with Disabilities Act and other laws
  protecting the civil rights of people with disabilities do
  not waive rules and replace them with placating
  The law says a person with a disability can be accompanied
  by a trained service dog in any public place that the person
  might otherwise go.  But the rules - both legal and
  cultural - still apply.
  With rights come responsibilities, and each of us, whether
  we have a disability or not, needs to play by the rules.
  I have benefited from the partnership and confidence
  afforded by beautifully trained guide dogs all my adult
  life.  Sometimes they (and I) make mistakes, and I hope we
  own them.  I have seen hundreds of other well-behaved
  service dogs in the hands of their human handlers and never
  yet found myself to be immune to the awe such partnerships
  can inspire.
  But just plain having a disability and just plain having a
  dog to go with it is not a free pass.
  I have been in facilities where a "service" dog was left
  tied to a chair to bark and whine while its handler
  socialized at the bar.
  I have seen originally well-trained animals leap and lick
  and sniff inappropriately while their human handlers smiled
  Maybe Glaser's dog is perfectly behaved and Ireland made
  an assumption and needs his fingers slapped accordingly.
  And maybe Jack needs additional training.
  What matters most here is that well-meaning supporters
  understand the balance between rights and responsibilities
  in the formula for equality.
  I have a fondness for that country expression, "I've got
  no dog in that fight."  Usually, its meaning is
  metaphorical, but in this instance, we literally do. Any of
  us who wants genuine equality will look at both sides of a
  dog's tale before barking up the wrong tree.

  Deborah Kendrick is a Cincinnati writer and advocate for
  people with disabilities.

  This column can be found online at:


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