Cura and I have been together since 2009. We want to thank all of you who followed the early days as well as those who popped back on occasion during the long hiatus. Training was done, the days passed, and we were settling into our life together.
Fast forward: Cura is slowing down and a new member of the family is in training. On top of that, we are all busy with our new calling . . . Running the Training Department for Paws and Stripes. Join us on our journey!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Welcoming Access

I have alluded to the fact that Cura and I are frequently warmly welcomed by most businesses. There are a couple of incidences that I would like to highlight at this point -- particularly since I have posted on my difficulties in this area before (without identifying the businesses, of course, given our litigious society). Some information will be very specific while others will be less detailed. However, unlike my posts dealing with negative experiences -- I will happily provide specific information about those businesses that, in my experience, have either welcomed or encouraged my patronage as a person with a service animal.

I have frequently been met with smiles and compliments at the Walmart on Unser in Rio Rancho as well as the one on Coors in Albuquerque -- there was one incident of a challenge, but most times I was welcomed right off the bat. I frequent both of these locations often and have almost always been welcomed warmly initially and am convinced that the only 'challenge' that I experienced was either an innocent or a legitimate concern by an employee that had not registered Cura's vest (I still find this a baffling, but legitimate reaction) or was overly exuberant about their responsibilities since, once it was brought to the employee's attention, we were welcomed without further protest.

Hello Deli on Jefferson NE in Albuquerque on Monday 27 July: We descended upon them with several challenges: a grandmother using a walker, a service dog (Cura), AND a pet dog (Skye). They not only welcomed us all to their patio, they graciously volunteered to bring the dogs a bowl of water! After the initial offer, at least two other members of the staff came out and asked if anyone had brought the dogs water -- this was a rather hot day (somewhere in the 90's) so this attention was very appreciated. While I always attempt to insure that I have Cura's needs taken care of to the best of my ability (yes, I manage to forget things once in a while), it is VERY pleasing when a business is willing to provide for my service dog while they are providing a service to me. Hello Deli certainly managed to do this when we were there -- thank you very much!

Scalo on Central SE in Albuquerque 28 July: OH MY GOODNESS! What a lovely experience! Once again, we were on the Patio, but only because the person who arrived first thought that Skye would be with us in addition to Cura. But, because of our plans for the day, Skye was not with us -- while there is a possibility that Skye will, eventually, become an assistance animal, that decision has not yet been made and she is not in a training program as of yet, so does not have the same access as Cura. First, I would like to compliment Scalo on the patio environment that they provide -- despite rather high temperatures, the patio is quite pleasant. On top of that, our waiter graciously asked if he could provide Cura with some water. Unfortunately, I neglected to note the name of our server (something that I have now vowed to remedy when I am out and about from now on because I want to give credit to individuals when it is warranted -- and this server DEFINITELY warranted it!). All I can do is try to give as much information as possible in the hopes that this individual will be recognized by his employer for his excellence. Prior to my disability, I was a server at a restaurant and I am both sympathetic to the stresses of the job and I also have very clear expectations of what warrants exceptional service, and what we received that day was, without a doubt, exceptional (even my father of Scottish descent, who frequently conforms to the monetary stereotype, loosened his purse to acknowledge the service we received this day). As I am sure you have already figured out -- our server was male. In addition, he sported a closely shaven/bald head and a crucifix around his neck. We were the only party on the patio at the time. There were four of us in the party along with Cura -- one of which was my grandmother who, while physically challenged, is very decisive and alert. In addition to making sure that Cura's needs were taken care of, our server also gave me ample opportunities to reinforce Cura's training. Not only is she supposed to be friendly in public when given permission, but she is also supposed to avoid contact and distraction. Our dog-loving server gave me the opportunity to reinforce both responses to public overtures. Thank you!

Satellite on Alameda in Albuquerque (several instances): While there is nothing overly exceptional here -- it is just as important to me to have a 'normal', 'uneventful' experience as it is to have an exceptional one. Every time I have gone to Satellite, I have had a very calm, normal, unstressful, experience. We have always been on the patio because Skye has been with us, but I have always been the one to go in and order and not once has anyone reacted to Cura's presence. Thank you, Satellite, for helping me to feel just like any other customer!

Flying Star in Bernallio on Saturday 25 July: Very similar to my Satellite experiences, this breakfast at the Flying Star was very mundane. But it is VERY important to realize -- from my perspective, having a rather mundane experience is actually desired. Ultimately, I wish to have the same service as any other customer at a restaurant -- the difference is that "I" includes both myself AND Cura. So, making sure we both have a comfortable experience goes a long way in my book. Flying Star managed to provide a pleasant experience for both Cura and I when we visited. While it was not an exceptional experience, it WAS a normal one and, in my life, normalcy is warmly embraced!

These are some of the local businesses that are providing me with normal or exceptional experiences. Thank you so much. Regardless of whether it is a "normal" or an "exceptional" experience -- BOTH are greatly appreciated. I will gladly recognize future positive experiences with details and share less than positive experiences by providing ambiguous details -- just stay tuned!

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