The learning curve is steep

Strauss is my first service dog.  I’ve only been working him for about 4 years now, and in that time I have done a lot of learning.  Some of that learning, it seems, I have taken for granted, as I completely forgot that I am not the only one that is being (and needs to be) educated on the matters of owning and working a service dog.

I have had to learn about access laws (still learning, it gets confusing), what I can do to correct people who are harassing me, or do not understand that my dog is allowed to be present, how to deal with conflict, and how to stand up for myself.  All of these things have been difficult for me , as I am not naturally inclined to stand up for myself.  But I have had to learn to do this so that I can have a *life*.  So that I can have *freedom*.

And now I have to teach my family members, both immediate and extended.

I advocate for myself 97-98% of the time (with the other 2% being my husband).  However, there are other family members that need to learn how to advocate for me in my absence, which means educating them on the laws involving service dogs and public access.

Before I can teach others how to go about some of these issues, they have to accept my use of my dog, and that is not easy.  Generally, it requires them to see me *using* my dog.  It is not until they witness all that Mouse does for me that they understand how important he is, and that he is not a burden, but that he lessens the burden my husband must bear.

This dog lightens the load on my husband.  Because of this dog, I can safely shop without my husband, I can socialize with friends, I can attend many functions that would have otherwise been impossible, or extremely difficult for me.

It does sadden me, to a degree, that people really do need to see to believe, in this case, but I’d rather they see it, understand it, and accept it than to continue to insist that my Mousedog isn’t necessary.  And there is always this sense of relief, and comfort, when it is not only acknowledge that Strauss is useful, but that my bond with him is nothing to be sneered at or ridiculed.

And even beyond that, it is satisfying when someone takes it upon themselves to stand up for me and my service dog if they believe I am being wronged.  That is not an easy thing to do, as that person is frequently met with serious adversity.  It is an uphill battle, and often times it’s a lot like the Greek myth of Sysiphus.  You keep shoving that boulder up the hill of ignorance only to have it roll back down into the depths of futility.

Not every educational endeavor is successful, but it sure is nice when somebody makes the attempt on my behalf.

Flail on,
– CLassical Spazz

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~ by ClassicalSpazz on March 2, 2012.

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