Laying Down the Paw

For those of you finding it difficult to decipher Phoebe's words, here is her Special Comment in writing:

"It has been brought to my attention, on numerous occasions, America, that there are those that will, for their own selfish reasons, claim their pet is a service dog in order to gain public access. Your dishonesty, no matter your motivation, undermines the legitimacy of my job. I am putting my paw down and saying to those who purchase a red vest and call a pet a service dog: you make my job, and my human's life, more challenging. Your actions give business owners a reason to question my presence in their establishments because they have been fooled by people who selfishly throw out the term "service dog" as if it has no consequences. Pets are not trained in the same way as service dogs. We have completed thousands of hours of specialized training in order to responsibly share public space with humans. We are trained to know immediately when our vests are put on that it is time for work, for good behavior, and we take our jobs very seriously. From restaurants, to schools, to hospitals, we understand that upon request from our humans, we immediately sit, lie down, or complete whatever task is required of us. We are the real deal, we are certified working animals, and when you throw a vest on your pet and drag him or her into a grocery store or a movie theatre, there is a real possibility of  disruptive or inappropriate behavior. If that happens, employes are under the impression that your dog is a service animal, thus, they think less of service dogs, or they look upon me with doubt the next time I enter their business with my human. It is not far, it is not right, and it is not legal. To those of you who have attempted to pass off your pet as a service dog, I ask only that you think about the potential consequences of your actions. I ask you to consider how you would feel if your friend, your mother, your sister had a service dog and was hassled and treated poorly due to a stranger's choice to break the rules. I ask that you respect the men and women who have dedicated their time, their money, their energy and their love to training service dogs. I ask that the next time you are faced with a choice, you choose to regard service animals with the respect we deserve. Good night, and good luck."


  1. I feel frustrated at "Phoebe's words." I am diabetic. My dog is a diabetic alert dog. We did not have to pay thousands of dollars for her. Our service dog adventure began the day she prevented me from having a head on collision when my sugar had dropped too low. My husband and our beloved daughter were in the car. It would have been fatal. She (untrained at the time) got antsy about five minutes before I drove our car over the median. She tried to get to me but we don't like her in my lap when I am driving, for obvious safety reasons. She woke my husband and daugther with her desparate jumping around. My husband put her in a little dog bed and tried to keep her still. She was still frantic but finally sat stiffly still. A few minutes later, not realizing my sugar was low, I started thinking about how good it would feel to go to sleep and that even though we would most definitely head over the median into head on traffic, that it shouldn't 'hurt too bad' and that God would keep us safe from being hurt --- certainly not normal thinking for a loving mother and wife whose job is to keep the safety of her family at the upmost priority ... but when your sugar drops low or shoots up high, all coherent reasoning disappears. Just before I headed over the median, Tinker Belle (yes, she is a small dog) went to my husband and danced on his chest and face (she is not a hyper dogs, so this was highly unusual behavior for her). She would not stop until he was up and looked over at me about the same time the wheels of our car drifted over the median. He got my attention and had me pull over to let him drive. I was apalled at what had almost happened and the reisk and danger I put my precious family through and we were thankful to Tink for saving our lives. As my husband pulled the car back onto the road, my daughter said, "Momma, that is not the first time Tinker Belle has reacted like that when your sugar gets too funny!" I thought back and realized she was right, but so that we could be certain, we waited five more months to confirm that she was definitely alerting me when my sugar was too high or too low and we reinforced her with praise when she alerted me. After waiting five months to be cartain that she was genuinely alerting me and that it wasn't just a "I would love to have my dog go everywhere I go syndrome," I requested a note from my doctor stating that I am diabetic and benefit from a diabetic alert dog. I understand the frustration of everyone suspecting a service dog to be a ruse and I am equally frustrated with the fact that so many people are not aware that dogs can do more than just lead blind people, hear for deaf people, and pickup dropped things for people in wheel chairs. Dogs can be used for balance while walking, and to sense oncoming seizures, to help sooth medically diagnosed PTSD issues, and lately, I have heard they can even sniff out heart attacks and seek help for their human. Diabetic Alert Dogs smell the eye fluid and/or breath of their human and high and low sugars have distinct odors. My dog took the intiative to save my family's lives but good dogs can be trained to be diabetic alert dogs, or just about anything else. It is not green paper containing the smell of money that makes a dog become a service dog. It is love, good training, and excellent instincts along with loyalty and commitment on both the dog's and human's part that will benefit both the person and their faithful companion. ~Dawn

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