You’re Not Blind
I may not be blind or wheelchair bound, but that does not mean my Medical Assistance Dog doesn’t have an important job to do. Not all life-threatening disabilities are visible.
Recently, whilst in the town of Narrogin, my partner and I decided to go out for dinner at the local pub. We had heard they served nice Butter Chicken, which is my favourite, so my partner decided to take me there as a treat. On our way to the counter, I told my partner how impressed I was with the people of Narrogin, as I had not been mistreated, or refused service even once since our arrival.
We got there an hour before the kitchen opened, so sat down to a drink and chatted while we waited, but time was dragging by slowly, so we decided to go for a short walk. When we came back, we were confronted by a stocky man, who I guessed was the manager or owner of the establishment. He pointed at Cruizer, my Medical Assistance Dog and told me that dogs were not permitted. This is quite common and I am used to explaining that my dog is for Medical Purposes, hence the harness and clear labels stating that he is working and not to be distracted.
Even after explaining to the man that the dog was not a pet and that he is permitted to go anywhere I go, the man continued to shake his head and again requested we leave.
“He has the same rights as a seeing-eye-dog” I explained, to which the man scoffed and laughed. “Oh come on! You’re clearly not blind”. At this point my partner stated that he would rather eat elsewhere and to not bother attempting to explain further. We had the eyes of a full pub on us and not one person came to our defence.
This sort of thing really annoys me, because it is difficult to explain to someone what my dog is for, without divulging all my medical conditions. Needless to say, we left the pub and went elsewhere for dinner and we had a lovely meal with great service.
It is true, I am not blind and I often see people look at my dog, then immediately glance to my face, only to look away quickly when they realise I am not vision impaired. Yes, I can see you clearly (with my glasses on).
Medical Assistance Dogs (also known as Service Dogs), can be used to assist with a multitude of disabilities including PTSD, diabetes, food allergies, bipolar, depression, anxiety, epilepsy, downs syndrome, autism and loads more.
My dog is mainly for my Epilepsy, however he also assists me with my depression and anxiety, which in turn reduces my seizures. I have had Cruizer for a little over two years now and he has made a massive difference to my life.
My last Medical Assistance Dog Holden, passed away in 2012 and I spent two years without an aid dog. I was averaging a hospital visit via ambulance once a month during that two years, almost every time I was required to stay in overnight. Since having Cruizer I have had only 1 visit to the hospital in two years – and that was because I chose to go somewhere where they would not permit me to take my dog.
Since being sexually assaulted whilst recovering from a seizure, I have suffered from severe, chronic social anxiety. I constantly fear I am going to have a seizure in public and be totally vulnerable and unable to protect myself. Since having Cruizer with me and his ability to warn me of an oncoming attack, with enough time for me to call for help and remove myself from the public setting, I no longer suffer from such severe crippling anxiety, because I know that with Cruizer, I will never be in a position where it can happen to me again.
It is impossible for me to truly explain how life changing this has been for me. I used to sit in my house starving myself, because I was too afraid to go to the shopping centre to get groceries, or to visit my doctor to get scripts, then to the chemist to get my medications. This found me in a situation where I was suffering from more severe, frequent seizures, not only because I was not properly medicated, but my body was in constant stress, due to poor nutrition and heightened anxiety, which ultimately led to an increase in my depression. I should not feel the need to divulge all this information to every person who is ignorant to the importance of Medical Assistance Dogs and the rights and responsibilities of the dog, the handler and the public. Admittedly, I would prefer to continue dealing with the ignorance of a few shop owners, managers and the public than to go back to living the way I once did.
I may not be blind, but my dog is my lifeline and the fact that you are unable to see my disability shows that my dog is in fact doing his job.
Unfortunately, we are not all born perfect and some of us need a little help to fight the battles we face each and every day. Please be aware that these dogs are life savers and try not to judge too quickly.