advice for visiting non SD friendly family?

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Sabrina- 2000~2012

To break- injustice we- must break- silence
Barked: Mon Dec 5, '05 1:16pm PST 
Hi all, we will be visiting family in Baton Rouge this xmas and it will be the first time since getting Sabrina that I've seen most of them. First let me describe each to you and then I'll sum up and ask more specific questions:

Mom and Dad: Have met Sabrina. Dad hates dogs, mom tolerates. When staying at their house Sabrina must be crated the entire time, though crate can be moved around so is always right next to my chair.

Sister and boyfriend: No problems here!

Grandmother: Beginning althimers, "mean as a snake" as my mom says. Dogs are outside animals, she doesn't like them at all. Has white carpet. Will probably die within a year. This grandmother really has lots of poisin inside her and the althimers is making it all come out, unfortunately (I still love her, though, and she can have her moments).

Aunt and Uncle #1: Allergic to dogs, don't like them either. Have a heated garage where they say Sabrina can stay while we are at their house.

Aunt and Uncle #2: These two have a 5-6 year old child who is seriously hell on wheels. They do not discipline her at all and no one else is allowed to either. In restaurants she is allowed to wander and take food off strangers plates. Bites without reprecussion. Hits without comment. If you say "ouch" the parents tell you you are overreacting. These two also have a dog, whom I imagine is as well trained as their kid.

OK, so you get teh picture it's not a very Sabrina friendly situation. I don't have a problem really with crating her inside someone's house. Of course I'd rather she be out so I can use her to ease the anxiety that is always cuased by these types of things, but there is really no way that is going to happen. Problem is that at grandma's house she doesn't want her inside at all b/c of white carpet and dogs are dirty. Aunt and Uncle #1 have the heated garage, which may be OK... I don't really know how heated it is and I really don't want to do that, but what can you do? Aunt and Uncle #2 and hellion cousin I don't want anywhere around Sabrina really. I know the little girl will slap, kick, bite etc. Sabrina and probably will do that even if Sabrina is in a crate. I'm also not sure I want Sabrina around their dog as she is almost over her fear agression of other dogs due to being attacked. I'd hate for that to be reversed because of this other dog.

So here are my questions: How do you introduce these types of issues with people who don't believe in service dogs? What do I say? Should I insist on her being out or should I just accept her being crated inside everywhere since it will only be for three days? How do I handle the little cousin? Part of me says that maybe I should just leave Sabrina in the hotel or something for any activity we might do with them because in that situation I think Sabrina has a very good chance of getting hurt by either the kid or the dog, and if I said anything to her (the kid) then Aunt and Uncle #2 and Grandmother would both be yelling at me until the moment I left.

I also want to emphasize that these people do NOT believe in psychiatric illness. They don't believe I am bipolar, they don't believe in depression etc etc even though my grandma I believe shows lots of signs of being bipolar. They are also all very breedist and they know Sabrina is half pit. And in addition they're all still under so much stress from Hurricane Katrina stuff. Apparently all the refugees are causing a huge strain on life there with horrible traffic, empty grocery stores, super full classes (Aunt and Uncle #1 are teachers) etc etc. Our hotel also might be cancelled, we're supposed to call a week ahead of time and see. That would be the worst, though, because we'd have to stay with one of the relatives.

Anyway, this will probably be the last time we'll be together for a long time becuase I really think my grandma is going to die within the year. They weren't sure she was even going to make it to xmas (she has heart problems and also forgets to eat, drink, take meds etc and has deeply offended and fired every nurses aid that they've tried to get for her). So any advice for keeping this visit as easy as possible? I want to be able to say goodbye to my grandma and remember good moments with her from this vist, and I'm just afraid that won't be possible since she is so anti-Sabrina.

Pants aren't for- pulling?!?- Whatev.
Barked: Mon Dec 5, '05 1:34pm PST 
There is no way you can make this one trip w/o Sabrina? Also, if you're just doing day visits, could you crate her in the hotel and just go visit? This would at least minimize the risk that she would be tormented or attacked by the other dog. I realize separation anxiety is a problem, but as far as the lesser of two evils, it might be better that she's not even put in the position to have to deal with all this. I am very familiar with all of this kind of pittie anxiety. Jodi is very similar. She's on Clomicalm. It works wonders for us. The other possibility is to bring some Benadryl or Rescue Remedy with you just to keep her relaxed. It's not ideal, but it sure is kinder to the dog. Hope something I said helped puppy.
Sabrina- 2000~2012

To break- injustice we- must break- silence
Barked: Mon Dec 5, '05 2:06pm PST 
Hi Jodi,

No, there's no way I can make this trip without Sabrina. I suffer from major anxiety while flying and last time I flew without Sabrina I even fainted twice (it's not the heights, it's the number of people in a small space). So I need her to be able to fly out there. I also will need her to bring me my medicine as I simply cannot remember it. Alerting to moods would be helpfull, but hubby could fill in for her a little maybe on that front.

I had thought about leaving her crated in the hotel, at least for trips where I'd be around the horrible cousin. She loves her crate so I don't think that would be an issue. Oh and when she had the separation anxiety when we first got her she wass always fine when in her crate. But another thing I'm worried about is that I don't see these people often, but I do see them often enough that I don't want to set a bad pattern with them thinking I should always leave Sabrina in the hotel. Like if we go shopping or somewhere in public where there are lots of people there is no way I can do that without her.

And another thing to consider... I just got an email from my grandma. Apparently there will be at least 20 people for xmas dinner at the house of the Aunt and Uncle with the horribly behaved child and dog. Three of these 20 guests will be little boys around the same age 3-9, all of whom I've been told by my mom, aren't much better behaved.

Problem is with that many people I am likely to get very anxious so would need Sabrina there. But with four little kids and a dog, none of whom are even remotely behaved or even controllable there might be even more anxiety produced by them hitting and kicking Sabrina (I have no doubt they will do this if I let Sabrina near them).

Jeez, I feel like I should just stay home... If my granda weren't going to die soon I probably would!


Pants aren't for- pulling?!?- Whatev.
Barked: Mon Dec 5, '05 2:23pm PST 
I think it's extremely important to make sure Sabrina's needs are being met in this situation. I don't know how she could be of help to you otherwise. That's an extremely important aspect of being a service dog, is it not? That people allow you to do your job? If your family members are going to mistreat her and you can't safely leave her behind, then maybe it is a situation you should think twice about entering into. Family's important, but not so important that they supercede your own safety and well being and that of your dog. It can get ugly if you don't set firm boundaries for yourself. It sounds as if your family is certainly setting them for themselves.
Raven RIP- 9/17/97-12/1- 6/08

Running free- with Daddy at- the Bridge
Barked: Mon Dec 5, '05 5:00pm PST 
(Raven's mom here)

Ummmm.....With all due respect, why is it that you *want* to make a trip to be with people who are hostile not only to dogs but also have no respect for you and your needs? Will the "family fall-out" be worse if you don't go than the enormous difficulties you will suffer by going?

Can you tell them that you absolutely can't make the trip without Sabrina, so if Sabrina can't be with you then you can't be with them?

Good luck!
Nolte (Retired Guide Dog)

Guide dog work- is a joyous- thing!
Barked: Mon Dec 5, '05 8:01pm PST 
That's really a horrible situation. Unfortunately, whether it be family or not, in another person's private home they have the right to tell you they don't want your dog there. When it comes to private accomodations such as family's homes there's no protection for you as a SD handler, plain and simple.

I have one family member (brother-in-law) who absolutely detests dogs and plays the allergy card with regard to my guide dogs. He also doesn't feel I "need" a guide dog. LOL. In the beginning I fought him on it and would bring my dog to family occasions, only to have him gripe and complain the entire time, and it caused nothing but grief among my family, especially for my sister who's married to the jerk.

I finally just said heck with it...if my dog isn't welcome I'm not going. So I simply didn't go to occasions at their home. I have now and then gone there and left my dog at home, but it's been a rarity.

In your situation you can try to educate your family, but if they're as resistant as you describe it sounds unlikely they'll budge on this.

I would say that the crate is a good idea... sounds fine. But leaving Sabrina in the garage? No way would that happen to a dog of mine, heated garage or not.

When we get our guide dogs (and I've heard that other types of SD schools do the same) we're told that it's good to leave our dogs at home on occasion, as they need to understand that they might not always be able to be with us everywhere we go (such as if the dog has to be hospitalized at a vet clinic). The dog needs to be "ok" with being without us.

So I do now and then leave Nolte home, and he does just fine. Yes, I prefer having him to be independent, but on occasion it doesn't kill me to depend on a sighted guide and my cane.

With your situation, since Sabrina acts as a means of calming you, perhaps it's more difficult to be separated, so it might not be the best thing for you to do. But if it comes down to your aunt saying she HAS to stay in the garage, I simply would NOT go. That's ridiculous. Whether they "believe" in SDs or psychiatric illness or not, this is your SD and you obviously depend on her for many things. You shouldn't allow family to interfere with that...

So long post to make a point... put your foot down, or don't go to the places that are insisting the dog stay outside.

Karen Ann
Tena Lee Lee- (Service- Dog)

Disney Dog (SD)
Barked: Tue Dec 6, '05 12:00am PST 
I had a situation that was kind of the same thing. Our fam (mom, dad, sister and I) were planning a trip to vegas for my sisters 21st b-day and to visit fam. One of my aunts played the allergy thing and didn't want a dog near or in her house. So insted of going to her house we went out to public places with her... which worked out great. Then we stayed at my uncles house. The only problem there was that they had a cat, who never saw a dog before. They told me in the past that tena was more than welcome in their home cause she's well behaved. The only thing was during the day she had to be outside in the yard or upstairs in her crate because they didn't know what their cat or my dog would do together. We did that and it worked out fine. At night she came inside and slept in her crate (door open) then duirng the day when we were at her house she chilled out side and relaxed (which i think she enjoyed becuase we don't have a yard at our appt place). She in no way was attention deprived, my aunt and uncle have 2 wonderfull boys (3 and 5) who are great with animals. They would get an adult and go outside and play fetch with tena. She loved it. We noticed after about 5 days of this that their cat didn't even mind tena when she saw her, she was like oh hey there. Next time we go to vegas we might try tena inside on a leash during the day time. As far as my aunt with the "allergies" we visited her in the casinos and in other public areas.

If i were you i would stay in a hotel, then visit them in a public setting. Maybe at the house which allows dogs keep her on a leash and tell the kids not to pet her because she's working. (although while out with tena i had my cousins hold on to part of her leash to keep track of them easyer, it didn't distract tena at all). Good Luck!!! Nicki and Tena (SD)

A Doggie Scholar
Barked: Tue Dec 6, '05 3:19am PST 
I too really hope that your hotel reservation goes through - that way, you can probably leave Sabrina there for hours at a time if the need arises.

I guess everyone has an uncle or an aunt with extremely spoiled children. I have mine - the kid uses profanity to insult his dad, and punches his mom all the time. The way I deal with it is that I simply don't meet them in their house. We go to a restaurant instead - that way, my uncle feels compelled to find a baby sitter. Even if the kid happens to join, he is a little more self conscious in public than he is at home. Also, when I see my nephew, I always tell him "Look at you! You've become a little gentleman now!" and reverse psychology really works LOL. He stays calm and put for a few hours (and he might just call his dad an 'idiot' instead of using the f word, haha), and that's long enough to finish your dinner and have that "obligatory" family chat.

Member Since
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Barked: Tue Dec 6, '05 7:52am PST 
Is there anyway you can just visit your grandma a little later? Postpone the trip for a couple of weeks. That way, the whole family wouldn't be around, and you'd still get to see her.
Ziero - CGC, Rest in- peace 11/

I'm smarter than- your Honor- Student!
Barked: Tue Dec 6, '05 9:55am PST 
This is a difficult situation you are finding yourself in for sure. Personally, if I was in that position, I would either tell the people that don't like the dogs to deal with it for the few days you are going to be there, seeing as though you need to have Sabrina with you to help you with things..
Otherwise, I would plan this trip for a time that you may not have to worry about so many people being around you... like a non-holiday time of year.
Sorry if that was blunt, but that's the way I would handle it myself.. my motto has always been "if you don't want my animals, you don't want me either" and I stick to that.
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