Tag Archives: ADA

No Touch, No Talk, No Eye Contact

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the practice of “NO: Touch, Talk, Eye Contact” as it relates to dogs and more importantly, Service Dogs

Let’s start with the more common house pet. The practice, when successfully used, can help with anxious dogs cope with separation and hyper dogs that jump up on people for attention (or claim you as theirs). The reason this works in assisting the dog to be calm and polite is that a dog gets to know us by smell before sight. If you don’t look at your dog it should back off, even if slightly, and wait for an invitation for attention. If there is no invitation they should just give you back your space. Now, this being said, in the past I have been a HORRIBLE offender and have had a practice of wanting to pet and cuddle every dog I have ever seen the moment I see them. (Editor’s Note: The whole family is like this. The kids are very good about asking an owner before petting their pet. I, however, have been known to pet stray animals and once got ringworm from a stray cat! Oops!!!) I am wrong for acting this way and I will be better in the future. I see this on a daily basis and need to correct it in myself and work with the family on this as well.

StopRoundPatchS

The example I have in mind is when Lauri gets home from work and gets greeted at the door as quickly as possible by the kids (they will slide across the tile and almost knock me over!) and Casper (he acts like Dan gives him no attention all day and we KNOW that is not true). If I don’t happen to be there to hold his harness he does his “happy puppy dance” and gives her no space what so ever (I have even punched him in the snout on accident just trying to get out of my coat). Granted, all of us are happy to see her and we all want to greet, and be greeted, but this is an inappropriate behavior. A better way to act, on all of our parts, is to calmly greet from a respectable distance and allow whoever is entering to feel respected and peaceful. I understand that this is going to likely take longer for the children to grasp than Casper.

Let me now extend this to Casper while he is “officially” working. (I will use this term because he is a service dog but I don’t require him to “work” when we are in the house.) Let me also be clear, though, that from my experience he is never off duty. Even when he has been in full play mode with no collar, harness or butterfly vest on him he always has an eye on me and if I fall he is there in a moment’s notice to help. I have plenty of real life examples, but I will let you read the blog at your own pace and see for yourselves. I am, admittedly, the learn-by-doing type. This means that the wonderful people at SDP who raised and trained Casper could have told me a million times that I need to implement the “NO: Touch, Talk, Eye Contact” rule every time you are in public and I would not have listened until I experienced why I need to do it. I have difficulty with this because I know how a guy like Casper can attract attention and I don’t see that as a bad thing all the time. I want to be approachable and teach people about service dogs and disability acceptance. I have carried a misconception that these two things are mutually exclusive. What this means is that I have set a precedent of allowing people in to our space to greet in almost any situation and I now look back on this and realize it was a mistake.

I see this clearly with the people Casper has made friends with at the office. There are a select few people whose very presence cause him to break his down-stay and seek attention. He will even look for them as we pass a particular area. This is my fault. I taught him to be distracted. I did not purposely do this; I was misguidedly trying to be nice to everyone.  I think it is my failed attempt at acceptance, and I honestly don’t know if it was for him or me; I suspect, though, it was selfish. I can see in situations where I do not let Casper be social, even if I want to, that he is perfectly focused and happy all at the same time.

do not pet

You may be asking yourself if I have an action plan. The answer is yes. I plan on working with those people we currently interact with on a daily basis and inform them of the new rule, and why we have it. I also will need to make the changes at home so no confusion is caused. (The girls know how rules apply to others but often think they are exempt and set this precedent in public that hugging or petting him is ok. We are working on this.) Another step I plan to take is to get a “NO: Touch, Talk, Eye Contact” patch as well as a patch that displays Casper’s job as mobility dog. I may even get him a new vest so these patches are on his left panel where they are the most visible to the general public, and place his current large “do not pet” patch on the opposing side.  (Of course, most of us know these things are only minimally effective. I have toyed with getting a giant sign to hang off his butt. Seriously, though, in large crowds it is a problem. I think we all need shirts that largely state “DO NOT PET THE SERVICE DOG” on them or something.)

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Written by DFS
Edited by LJS

Working on my Ride

Hi friends –

It’s been a bit since I shared any stories with you so Dad said it’d be OK if told you a truck story. I may be fixed but I’m still a guy and I happen to like the truck Mom and Dad picked out for me when I came home. Over the past month we’ve been having small problems with the engine systems. I thought they had it all smooth until the other day a dash light came on and I alerted Dad as soon as I saw it. He said we’d call the service center as soon as they open, and the truck ran perfectly safe so I was happy to be on our way. Dad worked remotely so that the service shuttle could take care of him and not sit there all day. He didn’t tell me, however, that he was going to leave me home with Mom while he dropped the truck off. He told me later that he was gone for no more than a half hour and he was perfectly safe and figured I’d just take the chance to cuddle with Mom. I reminded him that we are a team and I will not be separated from him in the future. He told me he was sorry and simply thought I’d like to stay home and be cozy. I told him I like to be with him; anything else is plain unacceptable. My ultimatum was backed up by Mom’s recount of the Dane alert system of loud whining and cold wet noses. She had no idea he had left either because she was in bed not feeling well and I woke her up. I love her an all, but she don’t need a Dane and Dad NEEDS me! I greeted him as soon as soon as the door opened and gave him smooches! So glad he was alright!!!!

We worked remotely all day, sure that the truck would be back for us by noon, as requested. The phone didn’t ring by 11:30 so Dad called to check in. People get busy and the time rushes by; we understand. This call brought anxiety, though, because they reported that they had been working on it all morning and had made improvements but all the issues were not worked out. The service tech asked to keep the truck and Dad felt lost. This was not good news. Dad needed to pick up the human puppies from school and Mom didn’t feel well and we can’t all fit in her car! You see the dealer offers a “free rental” of a mid-size car. That’s barkable! Can you see a family of four humans and a Dane in a mid-size sedan? That means that once Dad gets all of loaded up he wouldn’t have space for him. They offered to get us a van or full-sized SUV but we had to pay an extra $15. Mom made a good point while on the phone with the service advisor when she asked a simple question: What would you do if Dad was in a wheelchair? Would you take his truck and offer a sedan, then make him pay to be accommodated? The service advisor stopped cold and didn’t know how to answer. While Dad talked, and explored rental options, Mom called and asked to speak with our sales representative. He is familiar with me and our situation. Within minutes our sales person was speaking with a manager and they set aside a loaner ride that would fit us all perfectly, with some reconfiguration of the seating. We now have a Honda Odyssey while our Pilot is being fixed.  Dad really likes a truck, but even he admitted that for a van this one is nice. Maybe Mom can have one when she’s ready.

**Editor’s Note: We are not so cheap we can’t shell out $15, but that was just for one day and then if they had it longer we had to pay the full rental. If we were just a “normal” family and could manage to squeeze into a smaller vehicle we would have accepted the discomfort and been done with it, but as far as I am concerned this was an accommodation issue and Momma Bear came out.

When Dad contacted the Service department again today, because they will have it for a third day, Dad asked what his opinion of the problem was. The reply was that he was not quoting prices. Dad laughed and restated the question. Being only curious, and not a mechanic himself, he wanted someone to tell him what was happening, what the solutions may be, and if the service may be a warranty type of item since this is outside of what normally happens to a truck of this type with the amount of miles it has been driven, given that the parts list in question are not of the disposable variety. This must have made him more comfortable because he told us that, yes, this is not normal and we do have an extended warranty that may cover this, and they’d be working with Honda to see what they can do to make this right without having this be three days of labor and parts.   

What struck me about this whole series of interactions were the two different views of the same problem. The service tech only saw that he needed Dad’s truck for more than a half day, and their normal process is to help schedule a rental of a mid-size sedan because that is their policy. When Dad asked for another solution, there wasn’t one for him, other than the scripted responses. When Dad’s sales person was contacted he was able to see that maybe for someone with a special need, like transporting a secret service dog and a family of four, that required a special solution. He was able to loan a van out of the same dealership where for someone else, it didn’t exist. These two people work for the same company, in the same building, and see life completely differently. I fully expect our family to be happy repeat customers rather than dissatisfied and disgruntled beings; but then again I am teaching the higher Dane view of the world am I not?

written by DFS
edited by LJS