Assistance Dog Blog Carnival (#ADBC)

Why hello there, gentle readers! As you’ve likely surmised from the title above, the Assistance Dog Blog Carnival is now upon us!

Assistance Dog Blog Carnival (#ADBC) And once again I’m playing hostess, which means I get the supreme privilege of choosing the theme for this fifteenth1 edition:

Freedom

The one thing I’ve noticed (and experienced) in many past rounds is that whether the theme is broad or narrow there are always those who have trouble finding something to write about. It is my hope to alleviate that in some way so I’ve thought of this topic in a twofold manner.

The first being interpretations of the topic itself, such as:

  • The empowerment and independence gained through partnering with an assistance dog;
  • The boundaries and limits surpassed when raising/training an assistance dog-to-be;
  • A moment when you felt unburdened;
  • An anecdote about hindrances or restraints and/or how these were overcome;
  • A story about your autonomy in working with or training an assistance dog

Alternately, the second aspect of this topic is the actual state of being free. Meaning that you have no restrictions on what you may write about, whether it’s a previous topic from past editions or a piece you’ve thought up on your own.

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  1. This was mistakenly promoted as the “fourteenth” edition due to a rogue past edition, but thankfully the Internet never forgets and it was quickly discovered before it could find a fake passport and wander off into parts unknown.

Welcome Home, Dolly!

One of the main reasons I hate moving is because inevitably something always gets lost. Case in point, I’ve been trying to locate a box of pictures for something like ten years now. Among the photos in this box are the portraits taken during my training at Guiding Eyes.

Well, I still haven’t found the box, but Dolly’s puppy raiser did send me this:

Portrait of Dolly in harness

I’ve been rather persistently pestering her for either of the portraits she has copies of to make . . . well, you’ll find out when the intended recipient does. For now, I am ever so pleased to say this lovely lady is hanging in my dining room.

Painting

Because Photoshop can be fun to play with and also I’ve been working on several different web and graphic projects lately:

Portrait of Yara edited to appear as an oil painting

In other news, today registration begins for the yearly National Service Animal Eye Exam. In fact, I just finished registering Uschi and scheduling her appointment for next month.

For Keith

While at Dad and Keith’s over the holidays, Keith and I took the shepherds up to Caroga Lake to check out the changes made to his father’s old camp. The difference is remarkable! Even though everything was under several feet of snow it was very evident that the new owners have done a lot of work on the main house and the cabins.

As per his request, I brought my camera and took a bunch of photos for Keith. Unfortunately, wrangling three dogs who only want to jump around in the snow is not so great for taking pictures that are in focus. But a promise is a promise, even if it’s three months in the making:

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“A picture is worth a thousand words.”

The problem with blogging more consistently after a long stretch of inactivity and/or sporadic updates is that often everyone has moved on and it feels a lot like you’re talking to yourself. It’s like starting over from the very beginning with gathering readers. It’s harder now, too, because personal blogs have become almost obsolete in the wake of social media and so if you aren’t maintaining an active and very specific blog you’re just not interesting enough to people. Of course, I’ve never put much stock into booming stats or having tons of comments so it’s not all that different for me. Still, it does feel a bit lonely here sometimes. Maybe I should spruce up the design or something.

Anyway, aside from the brief mention of my major depression I haven’t yet gone into detail about my decline in posting. Of particular note to many is that there haven’t been any new photos here in months, which goes in direct contradiction to my proposed plans for getting more serious about my photography. In fact, you might have noticed that it’s been over a year since I had portraits taken, too. Why? Follow the jump or scroll on to find out, but fair warning to those with weak stomachs.

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Emotional Support Animal

There was a lot of debate surrounding the changes to the ADA in defining a service animal and one of the things that was (and still is) bandied about is the potential for abuse in terms of fake service animals. It’s an issue, though, it’s posts like this one on Tumblr that remind me it’s less of a problem than the more loosely defined emotional support animals (ESA):

5. Dogs make apartment searching hard. Pay $65 and you can register your dog as an “Emotional Support Animal.” No landlord can refuse you.

ESAs are certainly not my area of expertise, but sadly it does seem just as simple as the Tumblr post states to have a pet registered as one. In fact, provided you claim having a disability requiring the use of one you can do so online in a matter of minutes.

However, the facts straight from HUD:

The Fair Housing Act prohibits landlords from discriminating based on disability, race, color, national origin, religion, sex, and familial status. The ADA prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in employment, transportation, public accommodations, communications, and state and local government activities.  Both laws contain provisions which address the use of service or assistance animals by people with disabilities.  While the Fair Housing Act covers nearly all types of housing, some types of housing, such as public housing, are covered by both laws

Specifically, the “Notice on Service Animals and Assistance Animals for People with Disabilities in Housing and HUD-Funded Programs” states:

An assistance animal is not a pet. It is an animal that works, provides assistance, or performs tasks for the benefit of a person with a disability, or provides emotional support that alleviates one or more identified symptoms or effects of a person’s disability. Assistance animals perform many disability-related functions, including but not limited to, guiding individuals who are blind or have low vision, alerting individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing to sounds, providing protection or rescue assistance, pulling a wheelchair, fetching items, alerting persons to impending seizures, or providing emotional support to persons with disabilities who have a disability-related need for such support. For purposes of reasonable accommodation requests, neither the FHAct nor Section 504 requires an assistance animal to be individually trained or certified. While dogs are the most common type of assistance animal, other animals can also be assistance animals.

It further stipulates that in regard to a reasonable accommodation the following must be considered:

(1) Does the person seeking to use and live with the animal have a disability — i.e., a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities?

(2) Does the person making the request have a disability-related need for an assistance animal? In other words, does the animal work, provide assistance, perform tasks or services for the benefit of a person with a disability, or provide emotional support that alleviates one or more of the identified symptoms or effects of a person’s existing disability?

If the answer to either of those is “no” then a “no pets” policy does not need to be changed.

Public access and fair housing are legitimate issues for assistance dog partners and service animal handlers. Cheating the law to your advantage to aid in your apartment search or avoid a pet deposit is not only reprehensible, it also serves to prove the entire reason it is so hard to find accommodating landlords: the majority of pet owners are irresponsible.