If you have ever seen a service dog assisting someone, what were your thoughts?
Many people want to talk to or pet the dog. Though the dog would like this, it’s not a good thing to do. For some working dogs, it wouldn’t be a problem. For others, it distracts the dog from doing their work. It also makes it very difficult for the handler. In some cases, it could be dangerous for the handler. It also takes away 2 days of valuable training for the dog. If you really want to talk to or pet the dog, ask the handler first. They are the ones who know best whether or not their working team would be affected by it.
If you see it is a service dog, don’t distract in any way (speaking, petting, making noises, etc.). If you are unsure whether the dog is a service dog (even though you might be a “dog person” or have a lot of experience with dogs in general), keep to the basic rule: When in doubt, don’t.
By Law, there are only two questions you are permitted to ask the individual:
Many things are hidden in life. One thing that was hidden for me was an acquired disability. I say “acquired” because I was not born with a disability. It resulted from an injury. I still don’t remember details. Before that day of the injury, I was “normal”/fine. Afterwards, my brain began to short circuit. I became angry, self-conscious, scared, and confused how something like that could happen. It turned the world as I knew it in another direction. It gave a new meaning to “anything can happen”.
Seizures can sometimes scare people, both the individual and witnesses of the event. Sometimes, individuals can begin feeling responsible for another person’s discomfort and can become increasingly uncomfortable in others’ presence. I, like many others in this position, wasn’t prepared to handle that and deal with my own situation. I wanted to hide from the world. I began to retreat. When being “out” was absolutely necessary, I fervently prayed that nothing would “happen”. Prayers were not always answered. I, like others with this condition, had no control.
As time passed, I needed to make peace with my altered life. I didn’t have someone to help me “get through it” from a personal standpoint. I had a mom who was a nurse and other “regular” medical personnel. Others didn’t seem to understand what I was feeling. I dismissed the idea of counselors or psychologists, since society’s mentality at the time was that professionals were for people who had real issues, not for someone like me who was dealing with adjustment. I learned to live with the situation that had permanently moved into my life. Adjustment took time in many ways. Medicine began controlling this beast. Then, I began to control my own thoughts and perceptions about me and my life. It was tough.
I was determined to get my “normal” back. But – what wasmy “normal”? I needed answers – needed to move forward. I couldn’t spend life hidden from the world or myself. The old normal definition no longer applied in my mind or in reality. So, I made a new definition for myself, that I originally called my “new normal”. I also realized that everyone has their own definition of normal. I have accepted who I am. I am me.
Through the years, I have assisted others in their challenging journey through their new disabling conditions. You do not need to travel this alteration path alone. Feel free to contact me if you feel that I can help you.