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!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Mea Culpa!

When Cura first came home, due to my inexperience and a desire to 'make my life easier', I went ahead and got one of those Service Dog "certifications" that can be sent away for by just about anyone.  I have mentioned having a meaningless certification before.  Well, when the certificate came, it included a couple of "Registered Service Dog" patches.  I didn't get them put on Cura's daily vest or pack, but they were added onto her Cooling Coat.  Now that the weather is warmer, Cura is using her Cooling Coat more often and walking around town flashing the "Registered" patches all over the place. 

So what, you may ask . . . what difference does it make?  Well, here is the problem . . . by displaying patches that indicate that Cura is registered, it supports and promotes the public's misconception that Service Dogs need to be registered.  I am not sure why I did not make this connection earlier, but something that Heather said the other day suddenly clicked.  By the next day, the "Registered Service Dog" patches were removed from Cura's Cooling Coat.  I have to order another pair of her 'normal' Service Dog patches, but at least I am no longer contributing to the problem.

In reality, initially gettting the certificate and the patches was probably something that I needed to do.  I was not ready to deal with access challenges without having some kind backup -- no matter how flimsy I knew them to be.  If I could flash a patch, card, or piece of paper that others would see as validating Cura's status as a Service Dog, then I could avoid an unwanted confrontation.  Even with that support, for several months I came away from almost every access challenge with my heart pounding, hands shaking, and knees weak.  It took me a long time to feel comfortable dealing with such situations without getting overly stressed. 

Now after over a year of practice, it is time to stop leaning on these crutches and stop supporting the idea that Service Dogs should be registerd by displaying patches, etc. that indicate Cura is registered.  I apologize for buying into the hype.  I realize that I potentially made it harder for the Service Dog Team that happened to follow after me without some "registration".  Fortunately, one of the benefits of having Cura in my life for the past 15 months is gaining the skills to deal with such conflicts when they arise.  I am happy to say that I will not longer be sending out false impressions -- the patches are off! 

I have stopped 'making my life easier'.  In the long run, it is more effective to do the hard work of educating those who do not know any better.  I am now up to performing this task 100% of the time.  It may not always be fun, but it will always be worth it.  Thanks Heather for persisting and helping me to see the light!

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