I might have been a wee bit facetious in my most recent post. However, there may be a Calorie-alert Dog out there somewhere hovering over a plate of fries or a frozen dessert. One reason some folks can say these goofy condition names with a straight face has to do with taxes. Come April 15, Fluffy’s expenses can be deductible (see previous post).
Another reason is to don Fluffy in a vest when it’s fun or convenient to bring her along to public places.
There’s a third reason. People are increasingly turning to fill-in-the-blank service dogs to save them from various inabilities rather than assist with a disability. Failing to break an unhealthy habit or unpack life’s baggage are foibles for us all. This third category seems to equate the inability to move after eating an entire cheesecake with a neurological movement disorder that is eating away at one’s nerve fibers.
We can all sympathize with the agony of smashing our little piggies into a chair leg. A Stub-Your-Toe Prevention Dog seems extreme, though. The pain feels as debilitating as the most crippling of diseases. Except stubbed toes get better.
This third reason has given us the Citrus-alert Dogs (uncertain if fruit classification is taught by color, scent, or produce-section label, but somehow the dog is more capable than the human of distinguishing between an orange and a blueberry). In this third category, too, are the Hound Dogs (which detect loan agencies and – with additional training – ex’s who insist you’re still The One). Let’s not forget the emotional support kangaroo.
Yes, I made one of those up. (Can you guess which one?)*
So why not simply roll with the wackiness? The tax thing is irksome, the fake vest thing even more so. But access rights to Kanga and Roo is not rolling past me without comment. Access, as regulated by the ADA, allows legitimate service dog partners to confidently leave the confines of home to join in the mainstream. Errands or meeting a friend for lunch do not require documentation or excessive risk-of-injury assessment. We can leave home with a plan to return as openly as anyone.
But when Fluffy lunges, barks, growls or even bounces playfully, the working service dog team is at risk. At best, it’s akin to smearing mud on someone’s glasses and then expecting them to navigate a busy intersection. At worst, it happens in a busy intersection, risking disturbance, injury, fear. As diet dogs, lemon dogs and support kangaroos increase, these incidents will increase. Regulators will step in. The rules become stricter, more limiting, for the foible-challenged as well as the disabled.
To roll with the wackiness and not get a wee bit facetious could bankroll us. Deceptive medical claims come tax time affect the IRS. But, since we all end up paying, the service dog frauds hit us all in the wallet.
To roll with the frauds who insist that inability is on par with disability could roll a disabled person into a corner and trap him there with paperwork and safety concerns. That hits much closer to home.
*Hound dog. (The kangaroo was seen in a McDonalds in WI; the citrus-alert was trained by its owner — which still puzzles me as to how to teach the dog if he can’t spot the lemon.)