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“Changing the Lives of Veterans One Service Dog At A Time”

English: Golden Retreiver Service Dog

English: Golden Retreiver Service Dog (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Article Link

This March 2013 article on the Harrisburg Magazine website, talks about the benefits of Service Dogs to Veterans with PTSD, and points out that the public needs to respect that the dog is a service dog and not a pet despite the handler not having a disability that is visible to the naked eye.

My Service Dog does similar work to aid me as what was described in this article and I know all to well that while my Service Dog has made life more bearable for me, the public can be downright rude at times with the staring and questioning.  A Service Dog is a medical device and should be responded to with the same respect that would be expected by someone using a wheel chair or cane.  Always remember that just because the person holding the leash of a service dog doesn’t “look” disabled doesn’t mean they aren’t, if they weren’t disabled they wouldn’t need a Service Dog.

“Corbett Signs Law to Protect Service Dogs”

 

Article Link

This August 9, 2012 article found on the Gant daily website, talks about the new law that Gov. Corbett signed to help protect Service Dogs.  and includes a link to the bill itself.

 

New PA law protects Service Dogs

Video Link

This August 6, 2012 video/article found on the WICU News website out of Erie, talks about a new law that makes it a 3rd degree misdemeanor if someone’s dog attacks a service dog in Pennsylvania.

“Man’s Best Friend Lives Up to the Name”

English: A Psychiatric Service Dog In Training

English: A Psychiatric Service Dog In Training (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Article Link

This article doesn’t have a date on it, but I received  link to it in an email directly from NAMI on Wednesday, July 11, 2012.  The article was neat for me to read, because I have a Psychiatric Service Dog, and I love hearing about others being able to benefit from these awesome dogs.  prior to getting Tippy, I was in he hospital at least once per year for mental health reasons, but I’ve had Tippy for about 6 years now, and only had to be hospitalized once in that time frame.  The reason for the hospitalization was the result of eating too much grapefruit which interacted with my medications negatively and caused me to have a serotonin overload, which I later found out was more serious than I realized at the time.  At any rate though, I’m finding that Tippy helps motivate me to get out of bed on those days when depression is trying to creep in, she helps me remember to take my medications on time, and my panic attacks have decreased significantly since I got her as well.  I now find that going out in public while still challenging, is much more tolerable then it had been before I got her.

One thing I would like to remind folks of though, is that despite Guide Dogs for the visually impaired being the type of service dog that people think of first, it is important for folks to realize that not all disabled people are visually impaired.  Service dogs have been trained for all sorts of disabilities, including but not limited to, hearing, seizure alerts, diabetic alerts, mobility, psychiatric, and other types of disabilities that have a huge impact on the individual’s ability to function in everyday life.  Not all disabilities are visible to the naked eye, so if you see someone who is accompanied by a service dog, don’t assume the handler is visually impaired, or that the dog is in training both could be wrong assumptions, and for me personally, I get frustrated with it when people make such assumptions about me, because it comes across as rude on some level and like people view me as a diagnosis and not as a person.  Treat folks who are accompanied by a service animal the way you would want a stranger to treat you if you were seen in public, it’s ok to be friendly, and say hi to me, or commenting on the weather or whatever other small talk you might encounter while shopping, but please respect the fact that disabled people are not required by any law or regulation to discuss their disability in detail with anyone, and that despite out disability, we are people first 🙂

PMHCA Conference

I am going to be at the conference this year, and I have plans to do some blogging about my experience while I’m there.  I went to the conference in 2008 and was able to do some blogging during it. So, I figure since from what I can recall, folks seemed to enjoy hearing about the conference and seeing some live updates, I thought I would do it again this time around.

I’ve been working to get ready for the trip, packing the usual stuff that anyone would need if they went to the conference, but since I utilize a Service Dog, who will be with me at the conference, I also need to pack items for her.  Things like dog food, a toy, treats,a food and water dish, and of course most importantly her service dog gear.

The hotel is a pet friendly hotel, but I would like to ask folks who might be at the conference to please be awareof a couple things.

My Service Dog will be wearing either a blue vest or blue backpack with patches indicating she is a service dog.  Unlike a pet, she is trained to help me with things like medication reminders, panic attacks, and other disabling mental health issues.  She is NOT there for the amusement of these around me.  I would ask that folks talk o me and NOT my Service Dog.

Please do not talk to her, try to pet her, make little clucking noises at her to try and get her attention, or attempt to feed her…. she’s not starving trust me on this one I pay for her dog food.

I have a hard time with crowds and it would help me a lot if folks respected my boundaries which include not interacting with my Service Dog in any way.

My Service Dog is a medical device just like a wheelchair or cane or hearing aid … most people wouldn’t walk up to someone using these devices and start pulling levers, pushing buttons, or for that matter expecting the person using them to spill their guts to you about their medical history.

If you are gong to the conference, or know someone who is, I would appreciate that you spread the word.  I generally will talk to people if I’m approached, I just get overwhelmed when I have to tell 100 people not to pet my Service Dog.  So any help you could offer would be greatly appreciated.

So, while I’m very excited about having the opportunity to attend the conference, I’m also kind of anxious because I know there will be more people there then I’m use to being around which is tough for me without having to ward off people who think my Service Dog is there for their amusement.

I do hope to have a good time and a little help from folks in regards to my Service Dog would really go a long ways to making my trip a lot smoother.

-Jenn

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