Kathy Diamond Davis

Name:
Location: Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, United States

Author of the book "Therapy Dogs: Training Your Dog to Reach Others," 2nd edition published by Dogwise Publishing. Canine Behavior Series at www.veterinarybehavior.com

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Service/Assistance Dogs, Therapy Dogs, Emotional Therapy Dogs, Access Rights

People are really muddying the waters on the emotional support dog issue. Landlords seem to be the toughest sell, and yet that is the right a psychiatric patient specifically SHOULD have: to keep a companion animal in the residence.

The Americans with Disabilities Act says the person can be reqiuired to remove the dog if the dog's behavior is disruptive to the function of the place. A widely used example is a dog barking in a theatre during a performance can be required to be removed. The disabled handler of the dog is liable for any damages. It seems that a landlord could require the person to move the dog out of there if problems with noise, mess, damage, or threatening behavior to other tenants occurs.The dog being kept for emotional support needs to be suited to the housing facilities. That's an unpopular notion in this apartment and condo age.

Public access rights are something else entirely. Just because you have a prescription that provides for the dog to live with you doesn't mean you need or should be allowed to have the dog go everywhere with you. Dogs provide emotional benefits either way. So do other companion animals, for that matter. One of the most widely cited studies was done with parakeets (budgies?).

One of the stories in the article is particularly troubling. When someone's emotional/mental problem is the inability to control anger, is that person suited to work a dog around the public? Service dogs MUST be under control. How can a person who cannot control his or own behavior control that of the dog?

You don't have to be able to "manhandle" a dog physically, but you do have to be able to give the dog direction so that as a team you are not a danger to others, and you don't interfere with the business of a place. Either party in a dispute in a public place can call the police. It does not require making a disruptive scene.

As a store manager in my checkered past, I had a cranky old customer swear that my assistant had short-changed him. That was highly unlikely, but I would have given him the money to get him and his loud mouth out of the store.

My giving the guy the money was unacceptable to my assistant, however, because he was a careful and honorable person and because you could have cut the testosterone in the air with a knife. So, I called the police and an officer came out and quietly and patiently explained to the one who would not leave that he didn't have the right to stay in a crowded store and loudly proclaim to all the other customers about his grievance. He was told if we came up long on cash at the end of the day, we would contact him and he'd get the five dollars he claimed he'd been shorted from a $20 bill.

So, how is that disabled people get away with making nasty scenes? Yes, they can quietly stay there and call police (viva la cell phone) and wait for the officer to come and take a report. A courteous, low-volume mention to the business proprietor of that intention will likely eliminate the need for it.

My own disability is physical, my dog is courteous, I don't behave defensively, and any questions I've had have been extremely polite--makes me get misty-eyed how well my princess-dog and I are treated by strangers. Truthfully, though, if businesses could get away with just denying access to service dogs, they would. Especially big corporations (who control so much of our daily world now) would just have a policy against ALL dogs, period. A few run-ins with the Department of Justice, and they establish a policy to treat disabled people and their dogs with the utmost courtesy. The pioneers who have gone before me have cleared the way, and I'm grateful to them. Because they have EDUCATED, not just sued, members of the public who are not going by "corporate policy" are very accepting of my dog, too.

The pioneers are furious at the fakers, and I'm frightened by the fakers. I fear they are going to cause me to lose the right I need to have my dog's help. I fear they are going to make people so suspicious that going anywhere will be a huge ordeal for me. Currently I don't take my dog when I go to restaurants, and my health prevents me from traveling. The restaurant thing needs to come soon. I'm getting by with hubby's help, but it's not always enough. I'm told that the biggest problem with fraud is happening in travel.

And that leads to another issue that is contributing to this fakery, which is how dogs fare on airplanes. They need to all be cared for safely and be where their owners can monitor them, not just service dogs. Safety includes safety from attack by other dogs, though, so having too many crowded together would be asking for trouble. There have to be safe arrangements for dogs who are not able to handle that, too.

Perhaps airlines could deal with problem dog owners the way utility companies do. Utility companies get attorneys, and the post office cuts off mail service even before a carrier is bitten. Besides suing you (or billing your credit card!) for damages, perhaps the airline could put you and/or your dog off in some town you had not planned to visit. Enforcement with teeth, so to speak.

The world is changing when it comes to dogs, with lots of growing pains. In many ways, the service dogs and the volunteer therapy dogs are carrying the banners. I'm part of both groups, and it saddens me whenever anyone tarnishes the trust we've built with the public.

Emotional Support Dogs and Rights

People are really muddying the waters on the emotional support dog issue.
Landlords seem to be the toughest sell, and yet that is the right a psychiatric
patient specifically SHOULD have: to keep a companion animal in the
residence.

The Americans with Disabilities Act says the person can be reqiuired to
remove the dog if the dog's behavior is disruptive to the function of the place.
A widely used example is a dog barking in a theatre during a performance can
be required to be removed. The disabled handler of the dog is liable for any
damages. It seems that a landlord could require the person to move the dog
out of there if problems with noise, mess, damage, or threatening behavior to
other tenants occurs.The dog being kept for emotional support needs to be
suited to the housing facilities. That's an unpopular notion in this apartment
and condo age.

Public access rights are something else entirely. Just because you have a
prescription that provides for the dog to live with you doesn't mean you need
or should be allowed to have the dog go everywhere with you. Dogs provide
emotional benefits either way. So do other companion animals, for that matter.
One of the most widely cited studies was done with parakeets (budgies?).

One of the stories in the article is particularly troubling. When someone's
emotional/mental problem is the inability to control anger, is that person
suited to work a dog around the public? Service dogs MUST be under control. How
can a person who cannot control his or own behavior control that of the dog?

You don't have to be able to "manhandle" a dog physically, but you do have
to be able to give the dog direction so that as a team you are not a danger to
others, and you don't interfere with the business of a place. Either party
in a dispute in a public place can call the police. It does not require making
a disruptive scene.

As a store manager in my checkered past, I had a cranky old customer swear
that my assistant had short-changed him. That was highly unlikely, but I would
have given him the money to get him and his loud mouth out of the store.

My giving the guy the money was unacceptable to my assistant, however,
because he was a careful and honorable person and because you could have cut the
testosterone in the air with a knife. So, I called the police and an officer
came out and quietly and patiently explained to the one who would not leave
that he didn't have the right to stay in a crowded store and loudly proclaim to
all the other customers about his grievance. He was told if we came up long
on cash at the end of the day, we would contact him and he'd get the five
dollars he claimed he'd been shorted from a $20 bill.

So, how is that disabled people get away with making nasty scenes? Yes, they
can quietly stay there and call police (viva la cell phone) and wait for the
officer to come and take a report. A courteous, low-volume mention to the
business proprietor of that intention will likely eliminate the need for it.

My own disability is physical, my dog is courteous, I don't behave
defensively, and any questions I've had have been extremely polite--makes me get
misty-eyed how well my princess-dog and I are treated by strangers. Truthfully,
though, if businesses could get away with just denying access to service dogs,
they would. Especially big corporations (who control so much of our daily
world now) would just have a policy against ALL dogs, period. A few run-ins with
the Department of Justice, and they establish a policy to treat disabled
people and their dogs with the utmost courtesy. The pioneers who have gone
before me have cleared the way, and I'm grateful to them. Because they have
EDUCATED, not just sued, members of the public who are not going by "corporate
policy" are very accepting of my dog, too.

The pioneers are furious at the fakers, and I'm frightened by the fakers. I
fear they are going to cause me to lose the right I need to have my dog's
help. I fear they are going to make people so suspicious that going anywhere
will be a huge ordeal for me. Currently I don't take my dog when I go to
restaurants, and my health prevents me from traveling. The restaurant thing needs to
come soon. I'm getting by with hubby's help, but it's not always enough. I'm
told that the biggest problem with fraud is happening in travel.

And that leads to another issue that is contributing to this fakery, which
is how dogs fare on airplanes. They need to all be cared for safely and be
where their owners can monitor them, not just service dogs. Safety includes
safety from attack by other dogs, though, so having too many crowded together
would be asking for trouble. There have to be safe arrangements for dogs who are
not able to handle that, too.

Perhaps airlines could deal with problem dog owners the way utility
companies do. Utility companies get attorneys, and the post office cuts off mail
service even before a carrier is bitten. Besides suing you (or billing your
credit card!) for damages, perhaps the airline could put you and/or your dog off
in some town you had not planned to visit. Enforcement with teeth, so to
speak.

The world is changing when it comes to dogs, with lots of growing pains. In
many ways, the service dogs and the volunteer therapy dogs are carrying the
banners. I'm part of both groups, and it saddens me whenever anyone tarnishes
the trust we've built with the public.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Atkins Blessings

Just checking in, since it's been awhile. Still very happily at goal, still pray for guidance if the scale readings over a few days concern me, and still getting answered with marching orders on what to do about it (if anything). Still doing the moderate exercise including simple therapy pedal exerciser at my desk chair while reading a book, and indoor walking since I'm allergic to all outdoors. Still in ketosis.

Dr. Atkins would approve of what I eat. It's not as liberal as a hard exerciser or a man or a younger woman in maintenance, but it's very comfortable. I'm definitely not deprived. I've been on Atkins since 1/30/2002, and am still on my One Golden Shot. Not anti-yeast or even gold standard, just plain Atkins with the individualization Dr. Atkins' book mentions we all have to do.

Hubby still takes me out to eat when I want to go and brings home take-out when I want that. Not necessarily on the exact night I first bring it up, but pretty soon. He does the weekly shopping from my list to keep the stuff on hand for me to eat in lieu of going out or to add to my take out food. Typically the meat might be take out and I cook frozen vegetables and fix my own sauce to go with it.

As of April 24th, I've been at goal, up a little and down a little--currently a couple of pounds below goal--for 2 1/2 years. I still weigh daily. I still feel free of food cravings. It took 21 months to lose the 181 pounds I needed to lose. Prior to starting Atkins I had been very ill and lost 30 pounds, so altogether I'm 211 pounds below top weight, and my weight would bounce above that if I went off Atkins. I would not be able to walk, due to rheumatoid arthritis. But that would not likely be a long-term problem, since I'd be a prime candidate for heart disease and all sorts of complications of diabetes. Yep, I'm committed to Atkins for life.

Not that it's a hardship. Talk about "my yoke is easy and my burden is light," that describes Atkins.

Menopause is clobbering me, but I'm weathering the autoimmune storms rather than take the hormones I know a doctor would just love to put me on. I need to give my body time to adjust. Putting it off would not help. I do need to find some splints to wear at night to remodel these thumbs, though.

I'm not getting the infections I was constantly getting before going on Atkins. The physical problems I'm having are due to inflammation from the drop in estrogen, and as I understand it, the body does adjust. The way it has adjusted on Atkins has given me a lot of faith in that. My fingernails have never been so nice, my hair is doing great, no loose skin on my face (I had three chins!), and all my skin is stronger than it was.

My assistance dog Believer is doing a fantastic job and we took a test earlier this year as a team that made my confidence soar. I'll be starting a new dog probably by the end of this year, and she's helping me get ready by all the things I learn with her. I'm sure she will help train him, too. She's smart and loves to help me do whatever I want to do. She is a blessing on 4 feet. I plan to call the male Redeemer.

I did not realize it until I lost the weight, but I needed to do that in order to be able to train and handle my assistance dog effectively. I could have worked with a program-trained Labrador or Golden as a very heavy person in a wheel chair, but I could not have trained a Belgian Tervuren myself for the work. The dog would have perceived me as needing protection in that chair and that can't happen when an assistance dog is working around the public. Also we would have had a terrible time fitting through tight spaces with a huge wheel chair and a dog at the side. Stores are so crowded these days of every selling inch being so valuable.

I still have a left knee with damaged ligaments, but losing the weight and exercising regularly with the pedal exerciser pulled the ligaments into a snug fit around the joint with strong supporting muscles. I'm careful with it, wear shoes that give me a good feel of the ground and don't slip, and use my dance training to avoid twisting that would reinjure it.

My vestibular balance is very poor from ear damage after 54 years of respiratory allergies, but the kinetic sense from trained muscles compensates, with the dog's help, so I stay on my feet. Very cool how it works. Because of losing that weight, I kept the ability to walk. That's better motivation for me than wearing a size 6 any day.

The length of time I've maintained the weight loss will never "prove" anything. It's not over 'til I'm dead. I didn't get bloodwork or other evidence at the start of Atkins. I'm not writing a book about it. It was a gift from God. It continues to be a miracle. I've read that the purpose of a miracle is to increase faith. For me it has surely done that. For my husband, who watched it happen, it has also increased faith. He has his dream job now. When he saw what happened to me and I told him I was praying for his job; well, now he's doing what he's always wanted to do. He had the faith to step up for it.

As everyone will tell you, maintenance is harder than weight loss. But then again, it's not about will power. It's about surrender. I don't worry like I used to. I don't have the anxiety I used to have. I got into menopause and felt more creative! If this is hard, well, it's hard in a good way.

---Minus 181 pounds on Atkins in 21 months, now at goal weight since 10/24/2003. I'm in the middle of a miracle. Thank you, God.