"But you're not disabled!"

The Service and Therapy Dog forum is for all service and therapy dogs regardless of whether or not their status is legally defined by federal or state law, how they are trained, or whether or not they are "certified." Posts questioning or disputing a person's need for a service or therapy dog, the validity of a person's service or therapy dog, or the dog's ability to do the work of a service or therapy dog are not permitted in this forum. Please keep discussions fun, friendly, and helpful at all times.


Barked: Wed Oct 16, '13 1:54pm PST 
Yesterday, I went to the supermarket with my PSD. I tend to like it when people focus more on my dog than on me because of anxiety. I'm used to people asking if I'm training him. I tend to just say that I am training him (after all, even now when I have the time I'll do training exercises with him in public to keep all of his skills on par). The thing is, I live in a small town. Some people are aware that he's mine and some believe I am just training him. It's much easier to just say that I am training him, and he is not mine. I'd rather not lie though. When I have the time, I will spend a little time educating people on service dogs (what qualifies him as a service dog, proper service dog etiquette, etc.). So a woman yesterday asked me how someone goes about getting a service dog. I explained the various ways as well as what legally makes him a service dog. I happened to mention how you have to be disabled (obviously doesn't apply to many SDiT). The first response I get is: "But you're not a disabled!" Those kinds of comments always make me nervous. I'm young (almost 20), and my dog is PSD. I do not look disabled from the outside. I just said that I was, and I found an excuse to make my way to get what I needed. I don't feel like I need to explain how I am disabled, but at the same time I feel like I have to in order to justify that, yes, my service dog is not a fake. In the past, I've said that he's a medical alert dog, and when he has his stability harness on I will say he's for stability. What are some answers that people use? I don't want to be rude, but it really bothers me. To the point that half-way through the store I ended up having a panic attack and completely froze up. My dog had to help me sit down on the floor then stood over me until I calmed down. He was great the whole time, as expected, he stayed calm and was practically glued to me for the rest of the day to make sure I was going to be alright. But obviously this concerns me as I don't want this to happen every time someone asks questions! Any help would be appreciated!

Do you even- lift?
Barked: Wed Oct 16, '13 3:29pm PST 
My response in that situation would be to say, "Some disabilities are invisible" and let it go at that. Some people don't realize service dogs can be used for invisible disabilities. Reminding them that not everyone's disabilities are immediately obvious might help them understand why you have a service dog without you going into any detail. You could also say he's a psychiatric service dog, but I wouldn't count on everyone knowing what that means.

Here's a recent thread you might find helpful: Invisible Disabilities - Ever Feel like a Fraud?

Edited by author Wed Oct 16, '13 5:46pm PST


Barked: Wed Oct 16, '13 11:38pm PST 
You could also elaborate a little bit to give an example such as diabetic or seizure alert, if the person doesn't understand an invisible disability. I have done that before.

When I say medical alert, I am almost always met with confusion on what that means. *sigh* It's hard trying to describe a PSD.