Dealing With Ignorance
It’s interesting to me that I have to address this topic. After this week, frustrated. I have noticed that people have started to treat me differently since getting Crush. Most people are very accommodating or overly nice but there are others that are not. I recently watched a video on Youtube. A blind woman described her experience with her guide dog. She recalls times of being denied by a Lyft or Uber drivers, simply because of her dog. I can’t say that I’ve ever experienced this. I can’t imagine. I’m sure it will happen eventually but the Twin Cities is very accommodating. Let me preface this with the fact that in the United States it is illegal to deny someone service because of their assistance dog. There’s an overpopulation of fake service dogs. This is not only frustrating but it has significant consequences.
Often when I take Crush out he makes no noise, follows the rules, and doesn’t bother anyone. People are surprised when they realize there’s a dog with me. Crush is silent (besides his jingling collar). That is what a service dog is. When people are shocked that he sits beside me quietly, I question their reaction. Have they had interaction with real assistance dogs? Crush is well trained and older than most dogs that are placed by Can Do Canines. His overall training is mirrored by other service dogs. When people dress their pet up in service dog gear, I don’t think they’re aware of the damage they’re doing. Getting Crush was a big decision but ultimately he’s not a choice.
Life before Crush was quite difficult. Often I’d get stuck places because my blood pressure would drop and my heart rate would sky rocket. I’d get so dizzy that I couldn’t associate where I was in space. I would spend hours sitting, waiting and praying that my heart rate would even out so I could get back to my car. Having Crush has completely changed my life. He tethers me to the ground. When I’m dizzy, I can hold onto him. If something were to ever happen to me and I pass out, Crush knows how to protect me. Crush has given me my freedom back. I can go into stores without concern of being stuck. When people question my need for him or dare to insult him, I get angry.
The thing that I don’t think people realize is, as curious as you are, it’s not your business. I don’t mind answering questions but some days I’m not up for it. I’m not being rude when I tell you not to talk to my dog. I’m not being mean when I say your kid can’t pet my dog. Crush is there for my safety. If he misses me scratching and doesn’t alert me, I risk my airway. If my blood pressure drops and he won’t stand still because you’re cooing at him, I can’t put my legs on him to raise it. People need to realize that their actions have direct consequences. It’s that simple.
You may not be able to see what’s going on in my body but Crush knows instinctively. He’s my lifeline. If you risk our safety, I will be mad. When people dress their pets up and change people’s perspective on assistance dogs, I get frustrated. My point of saying all this is that things you do have an effect on other people. Just because it’s convenient or fun for you doesn’t mean it’s productive or helpful to us. When you use the handicap stall in the bathroom because it’s more comfortable, I have to wait. These are realities that people don’t understand until I sit there and explain them. That can be cumbersome and annoying. I know that the majority of people mean well but please think before you act.