A few weeks ago, sitting in the hot tub after my swim, the two other people soaking away aches and pains began a discussion about Sky, my service dog, who, as usual, was parked at the side of the hot tub inches from where I was sitting.

“Isn’t it natural,” one of them asked, “for dogs to want to go up to everyone and be petted?”  Translation: Not letting me pet your dog is cruel to her.

“And what if someone on the bus is allergic?” the gentleman asked, a smile on his face as he question my rights, always nasty, always with a smile on his face.

No, it is not natural for a working dog to want to be petted by everyone.  Working dogs often have no interest in other people at all when they are on the job.  Mine will make exceptions for people in wheelchairs.  Go figure.  And I sometimes, but not always, make exceptions for cute children by asking Sky to give (insert name here) a kiss.

And no, while most service dog partners (real ones) are as polite as possible when out in public with their well trained dogs, someone else’s allergy (God, do I have stories about this!) does not take away the rights of someone with a legitimate (do I repeat myself?) service dog.  In most cases, staying as far apart as the space allows will solve the problem.  I actually shared a Via car with a mother and her allergic daughter.  As they got into the cab and the little girl got excited seeing Sky, the mother merely said, “Don’t touch the doggy.  Remember your allergy.”  They sat in the “row” behind me.  Sky was on my lap.  No problem at all.  Most issues can work out but not if the assumption always is that the person with the dog has no rights at all.  We are not all cheaters and while you can’t always see what’s ailing someone with a service dog, the dog can and she can do something about it as well.

For several decades, Crohn’s disease made me a bleeder.  If you are so lucky, so lucky, that you don’t have any health problems and that you don’t know anyone with Crohn’s disease, and that you never had transfusions going into both arms at once because you nearly bled out, then let me just state this amazing fact.  Since Dexter, my first service dog, I have not had a bleed and have therefore not needed a transfusion.

So, nope, you cannot distract my dog because you are feeling needy.  I, in fact, am needier than you are and need her attention, her energy and her help.  And yes, I can travel on the bus, even if another passenger is allergic.  Somehow, we will work it out and both get where we need to go.

The world is big enough for people who need to be saved by the generous, unobtrusive, gorgeous work their dog partners do and the rest of the population, those who love dogs and would like to pet every dog they see, those who sometimes get congested when they are right next to a dog and those who respect the rights of disabled people even when it means keeping their hands and the story of their lives to themselves.

As always, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for stopping by.