Friday, May 25, 2012

Moving beyond Shyness

       My life has been nothing but a learning curve since I got Duchess almost two years ago. I know one of the hardest parts of being a service dog handler is fighting for your rights. I have had to do it quite frequently. I have been asked to leave so many places I have lost count. I know the first time it happened my heart was beating so fast and adrenaline was flowing. I was panicky but I knew that I needed to explain the law and sure enough I was able to handle the situation. I have had some situations that did not end so easily. It can be difficult to not lose your cool in these situations. I have my strategy for dealing with these situations for the most part. I have to admit most of the time in the past I did not always speak up in some situations that I should have. Most of my life I have been incredibly shy but I am thankful for these experience because it has forced me to move beyond some of my shyness.

         I was at the movie theater with my friend one evening. We were about to enter the theater after we had purchased our tickets. Then the manager approaches me and says you are not allowed to bring your dog in the theater. I then start to explain the law to him. He says he has to worry about all the other paying customers who might have allergies. I then explain my rights to be there trumps over the person who has allergies. I will sit on the opposite side of the room to accommodate a person with allergies if necessary. I understand how hard allergies can be but leaving my dog at home is not an option for me. So I try to be accommodating but I will not leave because of someone's allergies. Then the manager says to me there is no way your dog can sit through a two hour movie without barking or making a scene. I told him she was thoroughly trained and had been to the movies during her training. I know he scoffed at my comments but in the end I did win. It is sad that I had to educate the management on service animals. In fact this location I have had several issues, but I won't stop going to this location for one very important reason. If I back down the management will bully every service dog team after me. I am always trying to make life easier for anyone who may come after me. If I let one business get away with this it will only cause more hardships. Life is not easy having a service dog when in public in a city where there is very few service animals.

        I have contacted some corporate headquarters for several businesses to ask that they retrain their staff on service animal laws and etiquette instead of filing a complaint with the ADA. I have found that asking the business to just retrain the staff has worked well for me. I have went back to several places that addressed the issues and I am pleased to report that I have had no further issues. I am hoping as more service animals in the public will make access easier. If a situation is not resolved after dealing with the cops I will not shy away from filing a complaint with the ADA if necessary.



  1. Way to go on the advocacy. Much be so very frustrating to run into this, but at least you're taking a proactive step in addressing it. Seems like contacting corporate and asking for changes is a much better way than just complaining to ADA. Nicely done. Thanks for sharing this.

  2. Thank you Mike. It is incredibly frustrating but at least there has been a good response for corporate headquarters on addressing the issues. My worst offender was a local grocery store actually. I did request specific training that I wanted taught to the employee's and they agreed. Now is a very pleasant place to shop.

  3. Good for you. I haven't had to deal with this yet, and dread the first time that it happens. I'm taking Senator on our family vacation next month to Daytona Beach and I'm hoping that it will go smoothly. He's still in training, so I think that should work in my favor in Florida.

    I appreciate your paving the way in all of this. I'm learning from your experiences.

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  5. Kathy I hope you and your family have a wonderful vacation in Florida. Florida is wonderful in they are very informed of the laws. I have a feeling your trip will go smoothly.