Dignity for assistance dog teams
For any assistance dog team who may need to hear this and to educate those who simply don't understand.
There is increasing pressure and vitriol for those who have assistance dogs and service dogs.
The truth is assistance dog teams don't actually owe anybody on social media anything.
Having an assistance dog is incredibly difficult, it isn't about being able to be better than everyone else because you can take your dog wherever you like. Most of us finding it exhausting and terrifying to take our dogs to public places because of these attitudes and also because some people with disabilities have a hard enough time already going out and want to be invisible and a dog certainly doesn't aid in being invisible.
What people don't know is that assistance dogs go through intense training and not just as a one off to pass but regular training sessions to maintain tasks and behaviours.
It's also incredibly tiring for both parties, some of us choose to do public access tests and to have our dogs formally assessed.
Assistance dogs are also not servants, they aid in tasks we may not be able to do for ourselves, they aren't here to do everything for us.
There is also pressure on social media to show what assistance dogs do, when someone is experiencing a mental health crisis, had a fall, is having a seizure and is at their most vulnerable, the last thing they are going to be able to do is to whip their phone out to film. This is also incredibly degrading.
For me these parts of my life are degrading, embarrassing and incredibly private, I will never ever ask anyone to film what I go through for social media acceptance and nor should any of us.
My friends see what my dogs do for me in these times, they also see what my dogs do in the build up these times, as have professionals in the healthcare sector. As it should be for dignity and respect and nobody thinks to begin to film during these times.
I will always happily share tasks such as in the video and how to train them, but the idea that disabled people shouldn't have dogs or cannot meet their needs is degrading and ableist. To ask to see an episode is degrading and ableist and also completely irrelevant because although people may feel they do, social media scrollers and trolls hold no authority and are owed absolutely nothing from assistance dog teams.
There is lots of information out there on Google you can read and access about assistance dogs and their roles and what they do as well as the behind the scenes training and needs we have to meet, without asking any of us or making us feel embarrassed or taking advantage.
Being a supporter and educating others about disabilities and assistance dog teams is the kindest thing that you can do. You wouldn't go to a hospital to view people at their worst and unwell, so why do it to assistance dog teams?
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