A Letter From a Service Dog
I’m a service dog — read why I’m so special!
I’m a service dog, and that makes me special. I get to go everywhere with my human partner so I can help if I’m needed. I’d like to tell you about my wonderful, exciting life!
I went to a special puppy-raiser’s home when I was just eight weeks old. My puppy-raiser taught me manners and obedience. I was socialized in lots of interesting places where I learned to ignore other people and concentrate on behaving correctly. I stayed with my puppy-raiser until I was old enough to go to “puppy college,” which the humans call advanced training.
In advanced training I learned to do special things to help the partner I hadn’t even met yet. I learned to pick things up and return them to my partner. I learned to open and close doors, and turn lights on and off. I learned to get things off high shelves. I learned to put my feet on a counter with money in my mouth in case my partner needs help paying for purchases. I even learned to pull a wheelchair in case I would ever be needed to do that. I learned the names of some important things, like the phone. All my partner has to say to me is, “Get the phone,” and I run and come back with the it in my mouth.
When I was really good at all those skills, I met my partner who then had to learn how to command me to accomplish such tasks. My partner had to learn to be my leader, and I had to learn to do what I was told by another person. It was hard work to go through Team Training together, but we did it. Now we are a real team. We go everywhere together.
We’re going to be partners forever. We love each other and depend on each other. We play together and have fun, but when it’s time for me to work, I’m ready. I’ll bet I’ve picked up my partner’s keys a million times already, but I love doing it. I’m always with my partner, and I never get stuck alone at home. Being a service dog is the best life a dog could have! I’m really lucky to be one!
Service Dog Etiquette
- Never pet, call, talk, feed, whistle to, or otherwise distract a service dog or dog in training. To do so can potentially injure a disabled handler and earn the dog a correction.
- Ignore a service dog or puppy in training. Remember, they are NOT pets; they are being trained to do a very important job.
- If you feel you must pet a service dog or puppy in training, ask first. Do not feel offended if the handler says no. The dog (or handler) might be having a bad day, or might be in a hurry.
- Train children to never pet a strange dog – ANY dog – without first asking permission. Teach them to follow your lead.
Remember, a service dog is as vital to a person with disabilities as a wheelchair or cane.
Service Dog Laws
Federal Governing Bodies:
Purpose: (1) To provide a clear and comprehensive national mandate for the elimination of discrimination against individuals with disabilities; (2) To provide clear, strong, consistent, enforceable standards addressing discrimination against individuals with disabilities; (3) To ensure that the Federal Government plays a central role in enforcing the standards established in this Act on behalf of individuals with disabilities; and (4) To invoke the sweep of congressional authority, including the power to enforce the Fourteenth Amendment and to regulate commerce, in order to address the major areas of discrimination faced day-to-day by people with disabilities.
Policy: “It shall be unlawful for any person to refuse to make reasonable accommodations in rules, policies, practices, or services, when such accommodations may be necessary to afford a handicapped person equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling unit, including public and common use areas.”
Conditions: “The tenant or prospective tenant certifies in writing that the tenant or a member of his or her family is a person with a disability; … The animal has been trained to assist persons with that specific disability; and … The animal actually assists the person with a disability.”
Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Rules and Regulations
Policy: “Carriers shall accept as evidence that an animal is a service animal identification cards, other written documentation, presence of harnesses or markings on harnesses, tags or the credible verbal assurances of the qualified individual with disabilities using the animal.”Conditions: “Carriers shall permit a service animal to accompany a qualified individual with disabilities in any seat in which the person sits, unless the animal obstructs an aisle or other area that must remain unobstructed in order to facilitate an emergency evacuation.