It’s true, most of my rants and raves involve service animals. I can’t help it, being visibly disabled in public for me includes being visibly service-animaled. Part of a pair, we move through the world experiencing dis/ableism as human and dog. Whether my guide dog knows it or not, he is just as privy to the ignorance of strangers as I am.
This ignorance is felt more often in the warmer months. Here in New England, the temperatures have risen above freezing and some of us are already blasting air conditioning to cool off upper-floor apartments. With warmer weather comes warmer dogs. With warmer dogs come considerations for the independent traveler; do I bring water, is this cooling vest/collar ok, should we take extra breaks and look for shade? Not only is the health and safety of our own bodies in question (like with anyone wanting to stay cool on a hot day) but so too is our’ dogs. Nothing pants pathetic like a furry black dog in the sun!
Enter problem number 1: the happy helper. You’re chilling out in a coffee shop and she walks over, asking if your doggie needs a drink. Your dog is laying at your feet, already taken care of when you begged the barista for a cup of water and then poured it into your travel water bowl. You were trying to read a book. Amused, you ask her why your doggie would want a drinkie winkie? She replies with, “your dog does so much for you – you should do something for him!” *cough*
Yes. My dog was going to starve and die of thirst until you came along. I’m not even sure how this furry thing works, do I pull its’ tale for peanuts?
Problem number 2: the drive-by. This is an entire category of awesome and win, but for the purposes of this piece we’ll focus on drive by waterings. Today on twitter my friend A mentioned a lady watering her grass and blocking a path she and the pup were taking to get to the bus stop. After dog takes A around the watery block and safely to the stop, lady person runs up and offers dog water. By taking the hose she was holding and pointing it at dog’s face/A’s legs. Both human and dog were shocked and appalled. “But I was only thinking your doggie would like some water!”
Sure. Because every creature on earth likes to get splashed in the face with something cold, wet, unexpected and unsolicited. Also something about consent…?
No it’s cool, you go right on ahead with your helpful self. Splash us with water, assume we’re negligent. It’s cool. After all, we’re just poor little disabled folk with not a brain stem to shuffle on.