So, I said that my next post would be concerning the Hebrew month of Elul, but no. Do not despair, however, that post will be appearing soon. But first, I needed to pay homage to the recently deceased American hero, Sen. John McCain. I had mentioned him in one of my previous posts in which I talked about heroism. This is a topic of interest to Mike, and a major theme of his story, “Autobiography of a Georgia Cat.”. Sen. McCain has been acclaimed for his bravery, heroism, modesty, and patriotism. Mike didn’t agree with his politics but greatly respected his character. It speaks volumes that Sen. McCain has requested that the two people he wanted to eulogize him were both past political opponents whom he respected, former Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama. He also made one of his dying wishes that Pres. Donald Trump not attend his funeral. Spoiled Donald had been disrespecting Sen. McCain for years, staying that he wasn’t a hero just because he had been captured by the enemy, and that he liked better people who weren’t captured, implying that being captured by the enemy suggested either incompetence or cowardice. An examination of spoiled Donald’s military service will reveal that he didn’t have any, being excused by what is widely presumed to be a fake bone spur certified by a doctor who was willing to provide such documentation to the draft board. Spoiled Donald appears to be the kind of patriot who not only thinks it’s stupid to pay taxes but it’s also stupid to serve in the military if you don’t have to. Enough of this.
Because of some recent (over the past year or two) incidents with so-called service animals on commercial air flights, legislation has been introduced in the US Senate, and a number of airlines are re-examining their policies regarding service animals. Many airline employees and passengers have been injured or otherwise greatly inconvenienced by unruly animals that people have brought onto airplanes. People are taking advantage of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the lack of suitable regulations the airlines have in place regarding accommodating disabled people who have legitimately trained service dogs. People have brought animals other than dogs onto airplanes that they claim to be “comfort partners”. These animals have included peacocks, ostriches, kangaroos, iguanas, snakes, spiders, and you name it, anything with more than two legs. Well, almost anything. I’ve never heard of a service cat. What an absurd concept! Mike and Judy’s friend, Toni Eames, is president of the International Association of Assistance Dog Partners (IAADP). Toni has been blind since birth and has been partnered with assistance dogs continuously for the last 51 years. She and her late husband, Ed, were founders of the IAADP and tireless advocates for blind and otherwise disabled people and their dogs. They have worked as consultants for Delta and other airlines and have lectured at veterinary medical schools across the country explaining what the special needs of blind people are and what kind of specialized care their assistance dogs need. If you are partnered with a service animal and at an airport that has a designated area where service dogs can relieve themselves, you can thank Ed and Toni for this. Ed passed away several years ago. Toni has continued to be a staunch advocate for the blind and otherwise disabled people and for assistance dogs. The average person is not aware of the difficulties that blind people in particular have to deal with. They frequently will be denied service whether it’s in a restaurant, store, or pickup by a taxi, Uber, or Lyft driver. They are now protected under the law, but development of reasonable regulations often takes place without adequate input from stakeholders such as the IAADP and the people they represent. Recent proposed rules include the requirement of provision of documents by the person with the assistance dog, often an impossibility in an emergency situation. Some airlines require a signature from a Doctor of veterinary medicine that the animal will be well behaved while traveling. On the one hand, many veterinarians are reluctant to provide such a letter even to a well-trained dog. On the other hand, there are multiple websites where one can obtain such a letter. There is a whole industry of providing of documentation, vests, tags, and other paraphernalia for fake service animals. There are two keys that are most important for protecting the rights of the disabled person as well as the safety of the person and the public. First, the service animal has to be a dog. Second, the service dog has to be specifically trained to perform tasks and functions that the disabled person is unable to perform for himself or herself. The provision of emotional comfort per se is not sufficient. There are service dogs who have been specifically trained to calm the disabled person in an emergency situation. This is not the same thing as a comfort animal. Documentation of such training is necessary. All service animals are trained by academies that will provide certification that training has been completed for that dog. It also seems reasonable to have some size and breed limitations. Delta has proposed banning pit bull type dogs from their cabins. Based on my experience with pit bulls, while most of them are sweet, some can be unpredictable and aggressive. I would not want to have to be in an airport or airplane with one. It also seems reasonable to have some size limitation. Seating and leg room on commercial aircraft is getting more cramped as the airlines are trying to squeeze every nickel out of their transportation business. Mike ran into an acquaintance of his a couple of years ago at the airport, a young woman who had a dog the size of a buffalo calf on a leash. The dog was pulling her across the parking lot, and she was hanging on for dear life. The dog weighed 180 pounds if he weighed an ounce. Squeezing a dog that big under the seats would be miserable for the dog as well as for the seatmates of the person accompanied by such a “comfort animal”. If you are interested in the IAADP or any of its activities you can contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org, call them at 541-972-3647, or mail them at IAADP, PO Box 638, Sterling Heights, MI 48311. They could use your support.
In this context, it’s worth noting that September is international guide dog month. You may recall that I talked about some of these special days in my post, “Happy National Cat Day Y’all” on October 29, 2017. Before August gets away entirely let me make special note that the week of August 5-11 was international assistance dog week, and feeding pets of the homeless week; and August 10 was national spoil your dog day. August 18 was international homeless animals day, August 26 was national dog day, and today, August 28, is rainbow bridge remembrance day. September is animal pain awareness month. September 8 will be the AKC responsible dog ownership day; September 9 is national hug your hound day; September 9 and 10th are national pet Memorial days: September 15 is national puppy mill awareness day: September 24-28 is national dog week and September 28 is world rabies day. I’m not sure if they are for or against it.
Oh, and one more thing. You might be interested in reading a book by a good friend of Mike’s who adopted a child who was subsequently found to have significant mental health difficulties. He would go into rages and be uncontrollable. They got an assistance dog that would calm him. She wrote a book describing their story which has been very well received. Her name is Donnie Kanter Winokur, and the name of the book is “Chancer, How One Good Boy Saved Another”. Do check it out.
Well, that’s all the news for now from happy Meadows. Have a great week and I hope to send you more news soon. I hope it’s good news. And remember, if it’s not about love it’s not about anything.