Posted in Doggone Good Reads!

“Tuesday’s Promise”

Tuesday’s Promise is a tail-wagging sequel and continuation from Luis Carlos Montalvan’s first book, Until Tuesday

Having served two tours in Iraq, Montalvan begins by describing his post-wartime experiences, including what he calls the “invisible wounds of war.” These “invisible wounds” devastatingly include the alarmingly high suicide rate among veterans. To be more specific, Montalvan outlines that veterans die by suicide at a rate of 22 per day, 1 every 65 minutes, and 8,000 each year. Montalvan intimately invites readers into his narrative by discussing his reintegration into civilian life as well as detailing his experiences with posttraumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideations. In addition to his invisible wounds, the author also discusses his experiences with chronic physical pain and the life-altering decisions he has had to make with respect to his physical condition.

“Tuesday’s Promise”

He transitions by educating readers about the historical context of the human-canine relationship. For example, it is suggested that dogs assisted hunter-gatherers and evolved alongside their human counterparts by detecting threats, tracking food sources through their keen sense of smell, herding livestock, enhancing the agriculture industry, and providing border protection. More recently, dogs have been introduced into the medical scene by offering support and assistance to individuals with disabilities including, but not limited to, blindness, psychiatric disorders, seizure response, etc. For Montalvan, it is his service dog, Tuesday, who assists him in mitigating his disabilities, fostering a sense of independence, and ultimately enhancing his quality of life.

Through his narrative, readers gain insight into the many challenges that individuals with service dogs experience, specifically related to their public access rights. Montalvan shares a unique experience he had with Tuesday upon attempting to attend an appointment at the VA, wherein he was denied access, treated unjustly, and “required” to provide a service dog identification badge for Tuesday. In the words of Montalvan, this experience “felt infuriating, too stupid for words.” It was experiences, such as this, that motivated Montalvan to serve as an advocate to educate others about the work of service dogs and the public access rights of their partners.

With Tuesday by his side, Montalvan traveled nationwide as a public speaker, advocate, and educator. It was his mission to utilize his relationship with Tuesday as a means to help others feel respected, connected, loved, and embraced — characteristics that humans and animals alike both want and need!

Montalvan died by suicide in 2016 and was reunited in Heaven by his best pal, Tuesday, in 2019.  In memoriam of two national heroes, thank you for your service.  Thank you, Tuesday, for your gift of life that you provided to your partner in the years leading to his death.



More books by Luis Carlos Montalvan:

Tuesday Tucks Me In (Children’s Book)

Tuesday Tucks Me In
Photo Credit: Goodreads

Tuesday Takes Me There (Children’s Book)

Tuesday Takes Me There
Photo Credit: Goodreads

Until Tuesday

Click here to read more about Until Tuesday!

Posted in Doggone Good Reads!

“Until Tuesday”

Until Tuesday is a tail-wagging good read that focuses on the intimate relationship between a veteran and his service dog, Tuesday.  Luis Carlos Montalvan, deemed a “highly decorated captain” in the U.S. Army, served two tours in Iraq.  Post-Iraq, he found Pinella Until Tuesdayhimself experiencing a host of mental and physical disabilities.  Montalvan reports that the crippling aftermath of serving in combat caused him to experience debilitating posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, depression, and chronic physical pain.  He coped unhealthily, often relying on alcohol, isolation, and alienation from others as a means to manage every day life.  Each day was seemingly a constant battle for Montalvan “until Tuesday.”  Tuesday was a beautiful golden retriever trained by East Coast Assistance Dogs.  Through his training, Tuesday learned many cues, including how to open doors, turn on lights, and sense and respond to the onset of anxiety and flashbacks.  For Montalvan, he did just that and more.  Tuesday connected with Montalvan like none other and provided him with the service he needed to more healthily manage both his mental and physical disabilities.  Through Until Tuesday, readers learn about the manifestation of posttraumatic stress disorder, anxiety, alcoholism, depression, and physical ailments in Montalvan’s life.  We learn about the horrific extent of the many issues that our nation’s veterans face upon reintegrating into civilian life, and we gain a first-hand account of the therapeutic and healing power of the human-canine relationship.  With Tuesday’s help, Montalvan developed the confidence and courage to become a nationally recognized advocate for veterans with PTSD.  Until Tuesday provides an avenue for readers to learn about “man and dog,” “war and healing,” “ability and disability,” and “spiritual restoration.”

Montalvan reportedly died by suicide in 2016.  In memoriam of a national hero, thank you for your service.  Thank you, Tuesday, for your gift of life that you provided to your partner in the years leading to his death.

More books by Luis Carlos Montalvan:

Tuesday Tucks Me In (Children’s Book)

Tuesday Tucks Me In

Tuesday Takes Me There (Children’s Book)

Tuesday Takes Me There

Tuesday’s Promise

Tuesday's Promise

Posted in Tail-Wagging Dog Blogs

“What It Means To: Impersonate a Service Dog”

Welcome back, Sit, Stay, & Bloggers!

Impersonate a service dog?  Unfathomable!  You might not do it, but some individuals do, and this causes a plethora of problems for service dog handlers, working dogs, and puppy raisers.  As a disclaimer, much of this post is written from the perspective of a service dog raiser/trainer because that is where my experience with fake service dogs emanates from.

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Pinella on her first day in training with me!


Fake Service Dogs and the Problems They Pose:

Injuries: 
Service dogs undergo approximately 18-24 months of training through which they become highly socialized to other people, animals, sounds, etc.  Through training and socialization activities, they learn how to ignore dogs who are barking, lunging, playful, and/or misbehaving.  When fake, untrained service dogs encounter working service dogs in public, several problems can arise including, but not limited to, injuries.  In this  PBS News Hour article, Earle (a working service dog) experienced injuries after being bitten by a poodle whose owner was posing him as a service dog.

“My dog never moved, never retaliated, never barked. He did nothing. That is the way a service dog is trained”

Ollove, Michael (2017) cites Slavin, Chris, Earle’s handler.

Too Many Dogs:
Read closely as this is the only time my dog-loving self will ever type this:  There can exist such a thing as too many dogs.  As the use of legitimate service dogs becomes a more widely recognized and accepted practice in society, the number of dogs in public will undoubtedly increase.  What is problematic, however, is when the number of untrained and/or under-trained dogs in public increases.  Many of us possess a desire to take our dogs everywhere we go, but in reality, this is simply not practical.  Further, it is our duty as dog owners to reserve those public access rights for legitimate working service dogs and their handlers!

Public Access Denial:
Restaurants, stores, airport personnel, and other business establishment owners face the unnecessary challenge of figuring out how to navigate a situation in which they suspect a dog is being posed as a fake service dog.  By law and pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), only two questions are permissible to ask upon determining the legitimacy of a service dog:

1.  Is the dog required because of a disability?
2.  What work or task has the dog been trained to perform?

Business owners often must weigh the outcomes of two possible decisions:  1.  The costs associated with being sued for denying a legitimate service dog team their public access rights and 2.  The costs and dangers of admitting a fake service dog into their establishment.  Unfortunately, protecting the integrity of the establishment sometimes results in the denial of public access rights for deserving individuals and their working service dogs.  This undoubtedly poses unnecessary obstacles for individuals whose physical and/or mental disabilities already present with a host of accompanying challenges.

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An important job of a service dog and service dog in-training is having good attention on their handler  as Pinella demonstrates here!

Reputation Wreckers:
One negative encounter with a fake service dog is often enough justification for people to deem service dogs as “ill-behaved,” “not worthy of being in public,” “mean,” “dumb,” “aggressive,” etc.  This is harmful because the years of training these dogs undergo with their dedicated trainers is often negated and disregarded.  Although I have no concrete evidence to support this claim, it is my opinion that service dog handlers’ reputations could additionally be affected.  I speculate that others may deem them as “irresponsible,” “unable to control their animals,” “incapable,” “lazy,” etc. as a result of the actions of dog owners who pose their pets as fake service dogs.

Stress:
You log onto your computer, do a general search for service dog vest, click purchase, and within a few days a $20 service dog vest is delivered to your doorstep.  Convenience, right?  Wrong!  For your pet who has never been in a public establishment, you are about to expose them to what will likely be an overwhelming, anxiety-producing, and stressful experience.  Are you and your $20 fake service dog vest equipped to deal with that?

Dogs need practice in social environments which entails a great deal of socialization. This may first require starting off small (perhaps standing outside of a mall) before working up to more complex outings (walking in a grocery store next to a shopping cart or performing a long down stay in a good-smelling restaurant).  In essence, a non-working dog cannot be introduced to a public space and be expected to automatically respond positively to it.  Without adequate training, proper socialization, and exposure, the dog may be subject to stress and become fearful.  Your previously non-aggressive, “wouldn’t hurt a fly” dog may start to exhibit behavioral issues such as aggression toward a passerby.

Aside from experience in public settings, dogs often need exposure to wearing a vest.  Halfway through training Pinella for service dog work, she experienced harness sensitivity.  Putting on the vest was sometimes anxiety-provoking for her, and she would refuse to respond to cues.  However, through additional training and positive associations, we were able to overcome it.  This example serves as yet another testament to the nature of the work that is required to produce legitimate service dogs — it is not as simple as putting on a vest and strolling into public!

Untrained and Under-trained:
As mentioned throughout this post, fake service dogs are often untrained or under-trained.  Without the adequate training, their “service dog” life is unfamiliar, uncomfortable territory.  They are unsure of how to respond and behave.  I equate it to an accountant, for example, walking into an operating room to perform open-heart surgery.  That would be uncomfortable, unfamiliar, and rather unfair to expose that individual to that type of situation without proper training — the same goes for service dogs!

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As a service dog  in-training, Pinella accompanied me at work & classes!

Irresponsible Dog Ownership:
When I think about the act of faking one’s pet as a legitimate service dog, I often question the motive.  Is this an individual who has little respect and regard for the rights of others?  Perhaps this is someone who would be an ideal candidate for a service dog but lacks education about problems that impersonating service dogs can pose?  Nevertheless, it is the responsibility of dog owners to become better educated about the potential dangers that impersonating a service dog can pose to you, your pet, service dog handlers, working dogs, and the general public.

In addition, individuals with legitimate service dogs are required at all times to accompany and maintain control of their service dog when in public.  Otherwise, they are lawfully allowed to be asked to leave the establishment.  This emphasizes that the Americans with Disabilities Act upholds service dogs and their handlers to high standards, thereby setting the stage for responsible dog ownership.

Legal Obstacles and General Challenges:
In writing this post, I utilized numerous articles to clarify exactly what the laws are regarding misrepresentation of service dogs.  Here is where a dilemma arose:  Via an internet search using key terms such as fake service dogs and crime, many articles indicate that the ADA warrants impersonating a service dog as a federal crime.  In assessing the provisions of the ADA itself, I was unable to locate any information regarding the like.  However, the American Bar Association indicated that, while the ADA has no such provisions, individual states have associated misrepresentation of a service dog as a misdemeanor (Goren, 2014).    In addition to this conundrum, there does not exist a national registry for service dogs that is recognized by the Department of Justice.  Service dogs are also not required to be harnessed in a vest or wear an identification badge, and covered entities are not permitted to request documentation from the handler that confirms the dog has been trained, certified, or licensed (U.S. Department of Justice, 2015).

…’Ruff’ stuff, am I right?


  Conclusion:

Since becoming involved in the service dog community, I have heard various stories about the independence that service dogs provide to their partners.  For example, prior to having a service dog, some individuals are unable to leave their residences and enter public spaces (due to physical constraints, mental limitations, etc.).  Service dogs essentially assist in mitigating those types of challenges.  When fake service dogs are introduced, problems arise on many levels.

Taking Pinella into public is undoubtedly the thing I miss the most about her service dog training.  However, as her responsible pet owner, I recognize that it is my moral and civic obligation to respect the rights of working dogs, their handlers, and their former hard-working raisers/trainers.  As an alternative, we now opt for outings to pet-friendly establishments such as PetSmart and Lowe’s (while still keeping in mind that we must leave or relocate upon seeing a working or in-training service dog)!

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If you are someone who truly believes that having a dog in public would assist you in gaining independence and mitigating challenges that accompany your physical and/or mental disability, then I urge you to do your research!  Find the nearest service dog organization accredited by Assistance Dogs International and inquire!  If cost becomes an issue, get creative with fundraising, look for organizations that provide dogs for free, or inquire about possible payment plan options.  Always remember, there are thousands of individuals like myself who dedicate their time, energy, and money to reputable service dog organizations  in an effort to simplify the process for deserving individuals to obtain a highly trained service dog!  If you need help, please feel free to reach out to me via my Contact page! 🙂

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I hope you enjoyed this rather lengthy, yet informative post!  As you can tell, this is a topic that sparks a never-ending passion in me!  Don’t forget to follow and like Sit, Stay, & Blog on Twitter and Facebook, and stay tuned for next week’s post!  🙂

 


References

Goren, W.D. (2014).  Service dogs and the rights of the disabled.  In March/April 2014:  Disability law.  Retrieved from https://www.americanbar.org/publications/gp_solo/2014/march_april/service_dogs_and_rights_the_disabled.html

Ollove, Michael. (2017, October 16).  These 19 states are cracking down on fake service dogs.  Retrieved from https://www.pbs.org/newshour/health/19-states-cracking-fake-service-dogs

U.S. Department of Justice.  (2015, July 20).  Frequently asked questions about service animals and the ADA.  Retrieved from https://www.ada.gov/regs2010/service_animal_qa.html