This post is dedicated to guide dog handlers. I also want to extend this post to business owners, people who distribute goods and services, and … well, any working adult with decency.
Do you ever know what a guide dog is or does? Did you get education in school about guide dogs? Well, if you have a no dog policy at your business, I feel your pain, but wake up. Guide dogs legitimately do a service for disabled people. It is unlawful for you to ask for ID or paperwork. Let me tell you all about a few incidences that might be able to teach a few of you, if not all of you what guide dogs do and what not to do with a guide dog team.
- Melissa in California went to a Chinese place, working her dog Zappa as she trotted into the store. The guy and managers all said she couldn’t bring Zappa in to the restaurant. The results? The restaurant got sued. Melissa hopes that this teaches people a lesson. What can you learn from this? If you’re the Chinese owner of a restaurant or any restaurant for this matter, let the harnessed calm dogs into your establishment with no incident. Otherwise, you will get sued, and worse, you could lose business from other blind community members.
- Deanna from Ohio went to the Subway one day, was denied entrance to the Subway because of her dog Mambo, and then was later cajoled into coming in even with free sandwiches. The lesson here is that sometimes it’s a bit too late to get your business back if you deny a guide dog service in the restaurant and his/her handler has to go to a different location within your franchise.
- Merry and Marion were in a Tampa McDonald’s with not one, but two guide dogs. The Hispanic manager, a lady that spoke few words of English, said, “No dog allowed in here.” What she didn’t realize was that Merry was about to give her an earful about why she shouldn’t have said this. Merry ripped into the managers and staff at this McDonald’s, and said, would you like me to tell you that you can’t come in because you’re speaking Spanish? And she was correct. Guide dogs are an extension of their handlers, do the work that the handler obviously needs help with. A lady in a wheelchair or a guide dog handler are both equally able to access all public utilities, and it’s the law.
- Sassy in Massachusetts has written repeatedly that lyft and uber drivers don’t want her dog Ferdinand, a working guide dog, in their vehicles. Sassy laments that she had to report two drivers, not just one, and they both lost jobs because of their refusal to take the working dog team. Sassy and Ferdinand are a working team, and numerous complaints of this kind surface everywhere. The Americans with Disabilities Act, ADA, requires that service dog teams be accepted in Lyfts, Ubers, and other rideshare companies. Sure, this may not be America if you’re using Didi, but otherwise, Uber and Lyft dominate the market, and they in turn must allow guide and service dogs in the vehicle main body with their owners/handlers. No Muslim driver can object, and that might get you in trouble with the ADA. SEcondly, even if you’re allergic to dogs, you should consider that guide and service animals are well groomed, don’t often have tons of pet dander all over them, and if you’re allergic, well, you shouldn’t notice them. Deanna and Melissa might have had their shares of denials via ridesharing because of their dogs, but it should never ever happen.
- Airlines, where do I begin? Jessica, from Colorado Springs, of all the people I know, has had problems with some airline policies that dealt bad hands to her and her guide Prada. Jessica was told she couldn’t have the dog on board the aircraft but she pretty much got in their faces, telling them that Prada is a guide, that this dog belongs with her, etc., and that’s why nobody came back to get papers from Jessica. She knows her stuff, so you should too.
The lesson with all these denials is this. IF you’re not empathetic to people who use dogs for services such as guiding the blind, hearing things for the deaf, helping with wheelchair tasks, etc. Oh, and may I add that capuccin monkeys for the paralyzed count in the same category as service and guide dogs? YEs, they do. They help totally paralyzed people avoid having to deal with human caretakers who can possibly leave a person neglected, unable to leave their excrement or urine, or worse, the caretaker could lose their minds and neglect the person and not feed them. If the person has a monkey working with them, they get fed, taken to the bathroom, etc., and the monkey does their job feeding and turning pages on a reading stand. I have a great example of a capuccin at work. A lady who was paralyzed was asked to pitch a ball for the Red Sox during Disability Awareness Day in Boston, and I witnessed her pitch. The monkey threw the ball, and the stadium applauded the lady and her working partner. Many people could use a smart dog or monkey helping them out if they need it, physically need it. Blind people sometimes prefer to use canes, but guide dogs offer something canes don’t. My friend Rhonda, a young woman in the California Bay Area, had a very awesome guide dog named Mya. Mya was a German shepherd, which made her pretty good for guiding and such. German shepherds were among the first breeds of dog to be used to guide war veterans, and that’s how Dorothy Harrison Eustis came up with the Seeing Eye, and Frank Morris and Buddy, and the whole nine yards. Buddy was a guide dog, the first American guide dog to work for a blind person in the United States. Mya, because she was so great, joins many German shepherds in her heavenly palace on the other side of the Rainbow Bridge, and Rhonda remembers Mya’s abilities to judge character. Mya and Rhonda had a great connection, and even when she had seizures, Mya would rush over and put a paw on her as if to say, “Are you okay, Mommy?” That dog could have been dual trained, but she knew naturally that Rhonda was hers, and she was Rhonda’s. Mya was the best dog Rhonda could have ever had, and everybody remembers dogs like this one. Mya saved Rhonda’s life many times, protecting her butt while she crossed streets and navigated the alleyways of California, and now Mya is celebrating her years of service with her dog friends, awaiting the time Rhonda would meet her there on the side of the Rainbow Bridge. By then, Mya will play happily as a puppy should, but now, Rhonda will consider her options as she is going deaf, but her experience with Mya is something she will never forget.
I’ve seen smart dogs, fun dogs, and I’ve watched some aggressive dogs. Guide dogs are the calmest dogs you’ll ever meet, usually well trained, lest the owner gets wrecking the dog. Most guide dog handlers won’t wreck their dogs, trust me on this, my guide dog handler friends have more brains than some of the people who deny the services and goods to the handlers just because of their dogs.
So, if you’re an airline, a hotel, a restaurant, a business, a place of employment, even a doctor’s office or baby birthing center, let the guide dogs stay at their handlers’ side. Learn from the great dogs of yesteryear, and learn from the handlers why denials of service and goods is not acceptable.