Thursday, December 22, 2011


That's right: I said, "grrrrr." If you can't tell, I'm slightly frustrated; not in the least bit surprised, but annoyed and a bit perplexed. Sometimes I hate political correctness or people being polite for the sake of maintaining a business-like manner. If you have something to say, just say it. At least that way, I can deal with the root issue. At least then, if  I feel so inclined, I can educate the ignorant and dispel some misunderstandings that seem to plague our society.
Last week, I got that itch of wanting to be involved with training dogs again. It's an itch that I have not really been able to scratch, and even though I know that realistically that is not a feasible career option for me right now, I thought that volunteering would be the next best thing. Not only would it give me the opportunity to work with dogs, but also to learn about dog training and give back to the community. I spent nearly an entire afternoon researching service dog organisations local to Edinburgh and sending out emails, enquiring about volunteer positions. I didn't say anything to anyone-not even Mr. K-because I had a sneaking suspicion I would run into the same bias I have practically everywhere else.
where Kyo is currently still in training, was one of the only organisations to give me the opportunity to begin working with the dogs. A lot of my tasks were not dog related, but I was able to "pup sit" from time to time and also groom the dogs when I was on site. I was even granted the opportunity to watch different training sessions and ask questions.
It was no surprise to me then, when one of the emails came back denying my request to volunteer with the dogs. The only reason why  I was a bit taken aback was because the decision was made on a 12 to 15 line electronic form I filled out. There was no follow up call or enquiring email. The email just said that I was not suited to work with the dogs. I was informed though, that if I wanted to help the organisation, I could spend my time handing out posters or maybe working local events. Gee, thanks. "'Cause that is what I listed as my preferred work.
The reasons for not allowing me to work with the dogs?
Reason Number 1. Apparently I work too much.
Whoa. What? Where is this working too much that I am supposedly doing? I'd like to know because if I was working too much that would mean that I should be making a whole bunch of money and I would be able to purchase that 2 grand tandem bike I wanted, or that 250 pound wet suit.
I put on the application that I was working 2 hours a day, six days a week. This is about how much my triathlon training takes up as of right now. In total, that is twelve hours a week. Some people work that in a day! Who are they looking for? Retired people? Unemployed people?
Reason Number Two: We have working dogs already. Why do I bother telling people that? As soon as people find out I have a working dog myself, the answer is automatically no. One of the jobs I had checked off to do was to be a handler for a demonstration dog. That means, you take one of their dogs, bring him/her to events and demonstrate his/her training. And why can't I do that with a working dog? Glacier can stay home for such things and I can use a White Cane. There are ways to work around problems-it's called problem solving. Also, and I think this is what works me up the most, if I were accepting applications for volunteer positions and someone with a working dog applied, I would interview that person to see how he/she interacts with his/her working dog. If that person was a capable handler, with a successful dog, then perhaps they would be the best person to handle a demonstration dog. If they are already familiar with the importance of treating dogs as working animals and not pets, would they not be a good fit? That person would already know how to handle a dog/pup out in public and would know how to do it correctly. Sure, each organisation does things a bit different, but the basics would be there and new behaviors could be learned.
I just don't think either of these reasons are grounds to say no; especially if there isn't any follow up communication to gain some clarification. I kind of feel-and please excuse me puppy raisers because you know I love you and what you do, but I am just annoyed right now-that disabled people should be grossly involved in the raising of service dogs. We as disabled people know what we need better than anyone. I'm not saying go out and hire any disabled person just because they have a disability, but I feel strongly that "we" need to be involved in processes that eventually effect "us." It's something that I have been advocating for a long time now and the dog thing is just a byproduct of a greater problem: quite often, and not always, but  more frequently than is acceptable, able-bodied people think they know what disabled people need better than the person with a  disability.
Okay, my apologies for the rant. I'm sure they have reasons for doing what they do and please do not think that I devalue the work that puppy raisers and trainers alike do because I am not. I am just frustrated and needed to blow off some steam.

7 comments: said...

As you know from my previous comments I am a puppy raiser in California. I think it's great that you want to puppy raise and I've been sitting here trying to think reasons why you couldn't help in some capacity. That really makes me think less of those organizations. Keep searching out another opportunity. Don't give up. Perhaps you can go to the school or meet a few people on facebook or go to an event and meet with a person who can get your foot in the door.

Jess and Glacier said...

Those actually are really good suggestions. Thanks. :)
And, as I said, puppy raisers, sighted or not, are fabulous people and my post is not a reflection of how I feel towards them. Please keep up the good work. :)

Jen said...

I can relate to so much of your post. Completely agree that people with disabilities should be involved in the training process more.

Brooke, Cessna, Aspen, Canyon & Rogue said...

This really sucks Jess. I'm so sorry to hear you're still running into these biases.

Part of the reason I am no longer fostering for ADS is because of Cessna and the concern that her school might sue ADS if something were to happen to her or I while fostering or on an outing. I think this is stupid of course because the ADS trainer knows me and knows how much our program does not do for us lol!

I think the only way we can make sure changes happen surrounding the biases we run into is to continue pushing for inclusion and not just sitting back and letting it happen.

Huib and I decided, as you know, to just let the whole ADS thing go, but we've taken on an even more special project and are training a little Rogue puppy lol!

Keep pushing my friend, together we'll change the world!

3 doxies said...

No reason to apologize furs a's why we is heres...and why you blog.
Some peoples is just crazy. Anybuddy dat already has a working dog would be da best fir in my opinion...they knows what it involves.


browndogcbr said...

Hi Y'all,

Everyone needs to vent. Perhaps you could present yourself at the closest organization and demonstrate your abilities to travel about. Volunteer your services to handle puppies or whatever they need.

Trainers usually have college degrees in a related field such as animal behavior. Then there is a 3 year apprenticeship program before they become a full fledged leader dog trainer.

The field is extremely competitive and the best way to get your foot in the door is by volunteering with the organization...even in a job not related to the greeting people and showing them around.

Good luck.

BrownDog's Human

pattib said...

Vent, vent, vent away! Ironically, my husband made a comment to a friend of ours today who had also experienced a "no" to his request (totally unrelated to yours, but still, I think my husband's comment might apply). Anyway, my hubby said that oftentimes organizations (or people "in charge") find it easier just to say "no," than to deal with want would need to be done if the answer was "yes." So, instead of doing what you said about taking another step to fully investigate the situation and maybe having to do something extra to make it work, by saying "no" it is off their plate. Sometimes the "no" makes their job easier, or sometimes the "no" is a way to deal with limited resources, or sometimes the "no" is just plain ignorance. Don't give up and don't give in! You rock Jess!