The Comment I Wish People Would Stop Making About Service Dogs
I am coming up on two years of having my service dog Jenny with me. She has blessed my life in ways deeper than I could ever put into words. She saved my life and gave me back my independence when she first came into my life as a medical alert dog for my PTSD. She continues to aid me every day as we grow and learn together.
When I’m asked questions about her in public, I try and answer them and educate others about service dogs. I’m not always perfect at this. Sometimes I’m busy or just not in the mood. Perhaps I’ve just been asked why I have a dog five times in Walmart when all I wanted was a gallon of milk. I’m only human.
I have heard what seems like every comment under the moon about Jenny. Most of them roll off my back. I have gotten very used to ignoring people and not letting ignorance upset me. There is one comment, though, that I always hate to hear. “I wish I could bring my dog with me too.”
I always want to answer, “No, you don’t. Yes, she’s cute and dogs are fun, but she is not with me for fun. She is with me to provide aid for my disability. When we are out together, we are working. She is doing her job taking care of me and I am taking care of her. I love taking her out with me, but I do it out of necessity. For you to have a service dog you get to take everywhere with you, you have to have a documented disability that you can’t choose to leave at home.” That’s usually more than people want to know, so I tend to just smile and say thank you.
Don’t get me wrong, I love Jenny. I love having her with me and I am so grateful for her and the life she allows me to have. But if I could pick getting to have Jenny with me 24/7 or not having PTSD, I would rather not have PTSD. I know other handlers who feel the same way. I love dogs and would always have one as a pet, but a service dog team does not exist for the fun of being together, it’s about managing the handler’s health.
I know that’s not what most people are thinking of when they say they wish they could bring their dog with them, but next time you see a service dog team, stop and understand there is a medical need that necessitates they be together.
Thinkstock photo by Pilin Pentunyia.