Thursday, July 1, 2010

Kite Flyer

"You don't always get the dog you want,
you get the dog you need."
~Cesar Millan

Occasionally, I tell people she's half Pit Bull and half Carny. It's meant to be funny but it's also true. She's Latina too but I usually leave that part out in case someone were to ask to see her papers. We are in Nashville after all. It's hard to know which of those three groups is more discriminated against. As if just being a dog weren't enough.

This morning we made a trip over to our neighborhood big-box office supply store. Stella's been going there with me for nearly two years. I try to walk her a couple of miles before we go in. She loves it there because the floor is really cool and as soon as I find an aisle I like she can just lie down and soak it up. She doesn't move until I pick up her leash and say "okay". This morning we were approached by an exuberant young man who wondered if I needed any help. Holding up a box of jewel cases, I thanked him and told him I'd already found what I came for. Then he broke down and said what was really on his mind.

"Ummm, Ma'am, is that a service dog?"
He made little circles with his index finger, pointing at Stella.

"No," I said "but she's been in here many, many times."

"No one is allowed to bring dogs into the store unless they're service dogs" he said.

"I got permission from the manager" I said, "before I ever brought her in the first time. She comes in pretty often."

"Well they're clamping down on us now to keep dogs out" he said "and if that isn't a service dog, well'll have to go."

This is the point at which I resisted the urge to ask him if he had some desire to have a middle-aged woman up his ass at nine-thirty in the morning.

"Actually, she is a service dog", I said.

He looked baffled for just a second and then with nowhere to turn, he said "She is?"

"Uh-huh. But thanks for letting us know about the dog policy." I smiled my best smile at him and we walked away.

Now I know that civilized societies have rules and generally speaking, I wouldn't consider myself a rule breaker (you people in the peanut gallery - hush up) but I'm keen to tackle this one since it makes so little sense. Bad dogs rarely show up in public places. Bad dogs are at home, usually on a chain; alone and psychologically neglected (clue: that's why they're bad dogs). Nobody thinks of walking into a retail store with an angry, unpredictable dog and the fact that someone thinks I'd bring that sort of dog into a place of business, where there are strangers and possibly children, is not only an insult to me personally, but a testament to how fearful and litigious and ignorant we've become. [end of rant]

One might also ask (and reasonably so): What's the big deal about taking your dog into a store anyway? Why not just leave him/her at home?

Well, it's simple really.
It's fun having her along, I like her and I believe the people we run into on a daily basis do too. She breaks up their day. For a minute or two she feeds them her energy and they melt and run down into their shoes. They say things like:

"Wow, she's so soft I can hardly believe it." or "Thank God, there's Stella."

They go back to whatever they were doing, somehow refreshed. It's nothing earth shattering or terribly important but it feels good and it's legal. I'm beginning to think it should be mandatory. But, if the big office supply chain wants me to leave her at home well - that's okay. There are lots of places to buy office supplies. We'll just look around for one that embraces diversity and has sense enough to enjoy a good belly rub.

*Kite Flyer is the carnival ride pictured above.

Other Stuff

Nathan's Hot Dogs annual hot dog eating contest - Sunday July 4th - Coney Island.

I hate to say it but there are uglier dogs than this on my street.

Hope everyone has a great holiday. We're dog sitting (for Banjo and Ginger) so that could be a lot of fun.


Two Pitties in the City said...

We work extra hard to take our dogs around so they are socialized and have good behavior. I also think there is a huge double-standard for people with small dogs; I always see these dogs in inappropriate places, and usually they are acting poorly which gives all dogs a bad name.

iheartpintsize said...

You are absolutely right about dogs breaking up the day! Just last week I was having one of those days, so I walked to the pet store across from my office to play with the adoptable kittens (that particular store doesn't have adoptable dogs :( ). After just a few minutes I felt much more relaxed and able to face the last few hours of my day.

@Two Pitties - I loathe seeing people take their little yippy dogs in their carts in big box stores. I know that I could never get away with doing that with my beagle, much less a bigger dog. If you have a "No dogs" rule it should apply to ALL non-service dogs, no matter the size.

susan said...

I'm not an authority but it seems the more they experience, the more well rounded they become (kinda like people?) I agree w/ the double standard too, if Stella had been a little purse dog or a puppy (particularly at the post office), nobody would've ever said a thing about it.

@iheart That is totally lucky having a pet store nearby. I'm sure those guys at the office store are busy boning up on their Dog Police skills now that I lied to that guy's face. I was thinking of making Stella a vest with something totally ridiculous on it.

Beverly said...

How 'bout I make her a vest that says something like "Damn straight I'm a service dog. Any questions?"

Maybe something in pink, with sequins? rhinestones? Too much?

Susan Rose said...

Yes, Stella IS a service dog. She performs random and purposeful acts of kindness every day. And of course she takes a few moments for herself to indulge in doggy pleasures.

Y'all have a great 4th of July. I'm in California this week, visiting my daughter and her family.

sp said...

i was at a market yesterday and i asked the guard about whether they allowed dogs in the main hall (not the stores themselves, where often food is being prepared) and he said, with cell phone on his ear and staring off into the near distance, something along the lines of 'no dogs, never.' yet i had just seen a service dog inside, which, despite being a service dog, is still a dog.

it's as though people think their plastic badges and particle board podiums turn them into wild west sheriffs, and will exaggerate to show their prowess when asked to be Teh Authoriteh on a matter. ugh.

and those damn circle making index finger movements!!!! got the same thing from a pharmacy employee when someone in the store saw my menacing pitbull and actually ran away screaming.


they were all making these horrified faces as well, as my dog wagged her tail and waited patiently for one of these lunatics to pet her. it was not only insulting, but a total bummer of a surprise to get this reaction, as i had previously asked permission from several different managers to be inside with her... guess turnover is quite high at the local CVS

i think i'll make her a vest or one of those placard signs that says "please - no sudden movements, shouting, or direct eye contact; and whatever you do, DO NOT MAKE LITTLE CIRCLES IN THE AIR WITH YOUR INDEX FINGER - vicious and unpredictable owner on board"

Colleen - the AmAzINg Mrs. B said...

I soo loved this put hingds in perspective..and I love your heat and I love Stells's spirit. You make a gREaT team!

Woud you mind if I posted this on my blog this week with links back to you and Stella? I would love to get your message out..

Love the 'vest' ideafrom Beverly buy the way..and ALL DOGS are service dogs..look at the service each and everyone of them provide on a daily basis?!

susan said...

Love these comments, first, Susan, thanks - we did have a pretty fun weekend although there was a boat ride that had to be rescheduled :(

Colleen, of course you can reprint and spread the word, thank you!

Beverly, pink - no sequins, otherwise run with the ball..

sp: I understand, I've had people get totally irrational and (I call it) "pseudo-terrified" in front of her. I think when they were younger it probably garnered them a lot of attention. The latest was the trophy girlfriend of a football player. I wanted to tell her that being afraid of dogs wasn't sexy at all but she was busy running from us.

Ashley (the mom), Dixie (the Catahoula) and sometimes Lola (the Pit Bull) said...

I'm sorry, but what you did was ILLEGAL. It is against the law to impersonate a service dog. Are you disabled? No. Has Stella been individually trained to mitigate your disability which limits one or more major functions in life? No.
I know you think this is funny or no big deal. I know the people offering to make a vest so you can fraudulently pass her off as a service dog just because you want your dog to be with you think they are doing no harm. But you all are.
I have no doubt Stella is an awesome dog and that she may have been allowed in before but this time she wasn't. Rather than follow the LAW, you decided to break it.
And now you are advertising that you broke the law? Someone sees this, wants to take their dog everywhere with them who hasn't been trained up to the high standards of a service dog (both task training and public access training) and starts breaking the law like you. If one of these fake service dogs misbehaves, it makes it harder on people like me, who ARE disabled and use legitimate, LEGAL SERVICE DOGS. We will be harassed at the door. If enough people do this, there may be a push for stricter laws which will make it harder for those of us who truly need our service dogs to obtain them and be able to take them with us.
For those who wonder why service dogs are allowed in no pets areas, it is because they are specially trained to A) mitigate their disabled handler's disability and B)to properly behave in public. Do you really want to deny me the independence my dog gives me because you can't take your pet everywhere?
If you want to learn more, check out the Americans with Disabilities Act ( Here are two short documents that may help:
To find your state laws and the penalty for impersonating a service dog, check here (This page is the NC laws as an example):
I'm really disappointed that you would do something so irresponsible and illegal. If you want to take Stella places, A) call ahead each time and get permission, don't say she is a service dog if she is denied and B)Get a letter from the manager saying that she is allowed despite the fact that she isn't a service dog.

For the record (since I know this will be the first accusation), I DO wish that all well behaved dogs could go everywhere in public. Dixie had to retire and is no longer granted public access because of that. Do I wish she and Lola could go out with us? of course. But right now, the law says they can't and that it is illegal to falsely say they are service dogs.
So rather than break the law, why don't you work to change it?

Ann said...

I love your blog, and I love Stella. However, dogs can be unpredictable (as can the humans who encounter them). You've noted several times when Stella HAS been unpredictable. I've read several stories in my local paper recently about dog bites where the owners have given the standard "don't worry, he never bites," just prior to the dog biting.

I'm fine with finding dogs at the pet supply store, but I'm not sure I want to see them everywhere I go.

susan said...

Hi Ann, thanks. I understand what you're saying too. Dogs and people are unpredictable. I wouldn't want to see them everywhere either but I do think they benefit (or mine does anyway) from getting out and the park can get pretty bor-ing :)