Courage to fight harrassment

I’m SO very proud of our client, Lucia, who was getting harassed by bus drivers to and from work with her SD, Lily!!!!! She found the courage to contact them about this, and this is what she received!!!!

“Dear Ms. XXX,

Thank you for contacting Capital Metro regarding an unpleasant experience you had in using the route #331-Oltorf. In your comments, you stated that the operator was not following rules and procedures in regards to having service animals on the bus.

Please accept our apology for this experience with our service. All operators are trained to conduct themselves in a professional manner at all times to ensure a pleasant, safe riding experience for all our customers. The experience you described is not consistent with the quality of service we strive to provide.

We have identified the operator and notification has been sent to the operator’s supervisor for follow-up to this matter. This occurrence will be fully investigated and all appropriate and corrective action will be taken with the operator.

Once again, thank you for taking the time to contact us and thank you for riding Capital Metro. Please feel free to contact us in the future if you have any concerns, questions or suggestions regarding our service. You may reach our Customer Relations Department at 512-385-0190 or via our web site at


Valerie Rivera |Customer Relations Supervisor| 512-385-0190

AMAZING story of the day !

One of our dear Wounded Warrior clients and friend (Jimmy with SD Otto) was pulling out of his parking spot at his apartment. A woman came running by and Jimmy had to slam on his breaks so hard that his Service Dog, Otto, who was secured in a seatbelt still ended up shattering the windshield . The lady just left; didn’t even realize that the unseen injuries would definitely affect Jimmy and could have killed his SD; that saves him from a lot of things everyday – his best friend . Anyway, even though Otto was the one that got hurt, this is the first thing he did when he got out of the car ! This dog is amazing and the bond that they have is beyond words. Otto is OK for now – no signs of injury – but we will all be helping Jimmy monitor Otto.

Savannah and her SD Valentina

From our trainer Letty, who is working with Savannah, a dear 17 yr-old with Epilepsy and Developmental Delays, and her SD, Valentina.

“We had a wonderful training at Target! We worked on a small issues that Valentina and Savannah were having with touching while they walked. This is a technique that is used in mobility; it allows the SD to learn the “normal” gate of their partner. In doing this, when the gate changes or is compromised, the SD can help to correct or stabilize their partner. In some cases, as with Savannah, it can be an indicator of an impending seizure.

I came up with a little device that would keep them closer together and that could be manipulated to continue to “close the gap” between them. I used a stretchy cat collar and a clip. One end was threaded trough the clip and the other into Savannah’s belt loop. Then I simply closed the collar. This gives them both a bit of room to get used to feeling that close as well as keeping them together. It worked like a dream!!!”


From Candace, working hard in Dallas!

“The Singhania family had a two-hour private training session for their son with Muscular Dystrophy and his SDIT, Simba. The session was split up into two activities: proper leash walking and command-work. Simba needed a lot of help last week, and a head harness was purchased to reduce his pulling. The family was happy with how well it worked, but Simba was still pushing boundaries- or should we say “pulling” those boundaries. Also, since he is so young, we wanted to increase his endurance and attention span. Heavy emphasis was placed on “stay,” “touch,” “come,” and “closer.” Simba is doing well, and the Singhania family are doing a great job with their SDIT puppy.”

Another wonderful update from Candace, our trainer in Dallas:

dyslexia“Sunday, we had our first group class with LaCretia and her SDIT Boomer and the Kelli and her family and SDIT Buddy. Kelly’s son is a ten year-old with Asperger’s, dyslexia, dysgraphia, ADHD, auditory processing disorder and mild hearing loss. LaCretia has adrenal failure, and needs Boomer to learn to alert to her cortisone levels.

It was a great success! We spent the first hour getting to know one another and working commands. I set up flags for “Command Stations” and we practiced each command for about a minute and a half. Then, we moved on and practiced walking next to a moderately busy road. After that, we worked on the command “Under” with dysgraphiapicnic tables and benches. The second hour we spent in the mall, just walking and getting the dogs public exposure. They did really fantastic! We walked around the mall and in several stores – one of which was filled with children. We still have some kinks to work out, but all in all, we have some pretty spectacular and hard working families!”

From our trainer Candace, in Dallas:

“The session with Jennifer and her son, Trenton, who is an 11-year old boy with Tourette’s Syndrome and anxiety, went extremely well! Our focus was on finding things that calmed down SDIT Priddy, as she was anxious to be in the pet store. We explored several products that may help, and the family also had some “homework” for Priddy, which included taking her EVERYWHERE for socialization. She seemed to be particularly affected by loud or strange sounds, so I instructed Jennifer on how to take baby steps to socialize Priddy without causing too much stress, thus avoiding potential negative outcomes that could arise from over-exposure to certain stimuli. We also had some trouble finding something that motivated Priddy for training, as food did not have a response most of the time. A report post training session found that Priddy made marked improvements just days after the session. Hard work and consistency can accomplish so much with dog training! The family is now ready for the next steps!”

A message from a client on how much her SD has changed her life:

A message from a client on how much her SD has changed her life:

“Hi Laurie: I had a kind of terrible night. I’m mostly better, though, and it just goes to show how profound an impact my Service Dog has on my life. I thought I would go out without her tonight just for a short while to make sure she would be okay in the apartment without me, since tomorrow I will have to leave her for about seven hours when I go to my new job (I got the trial shift I told you about, so that means I should get the job and be able to take my SD with me in future weeks–just not this week). I walked to HEB which is about half a mile away–didn’t need anything, but just determined to go somewhere without her. My anxiety level got so high because I felt so unsafe by myself that I got dizzy and kind of blacked out while crossing the street – and the next thing I knew there was a car just a couple feet away from me, honking in such a terrifying way, telling me to move (as well they should). It was SO scary, especially because I nearly lost my leg in a car-bike accident not quite five months ago. Then I got to the store and there were people everywhere and tall isles with lots of stuff getting in my space and I felt trapped and horrible and I started crying just right in public, dizzy and lightheaded, having a panic attack, so people started coming up to me to see what was wrong which made it infinitely worse, and I eventually found a wall and sat down next to it to try to compose myself and then I left. I took the bus home–faster and safer than walking–and I cried on the bus. It was super awkward. NOTHING like that has happened AT ALL since I got my Service Dog – not even close. The last time something like that happened was a couple of weeks before I adopted her. Then I got home and she was just waiting for me by the door. Apparently, she had been just fine. Thirty minutes later I was totally fine.”

“You are so lucky!”

From the husband of a handler with a Guide Dog. I found this moving. Can apply to all people with Service Dogs.

“You are so lucky!”
We hear it frequently. And it always makes me cringe.
Many times when I am out and about with my wife and her guide dog, people comment about how ‘lucky’ she is. I like to think it is because she is married to me, but after a few years of hearing it, I now know better.

It is because of her guide dog.

The comments are, for the most part, innocently made because of the general public’s misunderstanding of just exactly how being blind can impact a person’s day-to-day living. They do not see the barriers, both physical and mental, which must be overcome in order to do the same things that so-called “normal” people do every day and seemingly take for granted. Things like getting safely from one place to the next, not bumping into other people and things when walking, noticing hazards that can trip someone easily and possibly cause an injury, and even simply walking across the street without being hit by an inattentive driver. These are some of the reasons she has her guide dog with her, not because she is ‘lucky’. And yet we hear it all the time: “You are so lucky that you can have your dog come with you. I wish I could take my dog with me everywhere I go.” They never see the real reason behind having the guide dog; all they see is the dog.

And it is not just guide dog users that hear the ‘lucky’ platitude. The general public sees a person with any kind of disability who uses any kind of service dog and automatically uses THEIR OWN interpretation of THEIR OWN life to come to the conclusion that somehow being able to have the service dog “along for the ride” makes the person with the disability ‘lucky’, because, after all, “you get to take your special friend along everywhere you go”.

The sentiment is genuine, but the understanding is lacking.

So, was my wife ‘lucky’ that she was shaken as an infant, causing her retinas to detach? Was she ‘lucky’ to have the scars on the inside of her brain caused by the shaking to swell, press on her brain stem, and initiate her seizures? Is she also ‘lucky’ that the visual cortex in her brain was so damaged by the shaking that there is no type of medical treatment or procedure which will ever allow her to see ‘normally’?

She will never do the simple things that others with ‘normal’ vision do. She adapts by using special programs on her computer to ‘read’ the text on the screen. She adapts by using a portable GPS device because she can’t read the street signs. She adapts by using an Audio Description service when we go to the movies or a live performance play. She adapts by using specially marked knobs on the stove, washer, dryer, dishwasher, and with marked shelves in the pantry and kitchen. She adapts by walking or taking the bus or train because she cannot drive. She adapts when shopping by using a UPC scanner to read what the items are. And yes, she adapts in her travels by using a guide dog because she can’t see you and your shopping cart, automobile, stroller, or anything else. Is that what makes her ‘lucky’?

I can honestly tell you that my wife would turn her guide dog into a pet dog in a New York minute if doing so meant that she could see like every ‘normal’ person and not have to constantly be gawked at, questioned, bullied, and made to feel inferior simply because of the type of mitigating device she uses to try and compensate for her blindness. Would she still be ‘lucky’ then?

The whole ‘lucky’ bit comes from those who are dog lovers and would like to be able to take their pet dog places with them. That’s all they see when they see a service dog working for a person with a disability: being able to take a dog places. Their thought patterns are all about them and their own desires; not about what is going on in the real world of those with disabilities. It is kind of like saying this to a person in a wheelchair: “You are so lucky that you get to sit down all the time.”

Using a service dog is a lot of work. It’s expensive. It’s time consuming. The logistics are mind numbing. One has to prepare many things in advance just to take a ‘quick’ trip to the store. The dog has to be brushed, relieved, have all the gear in place, special leashes, and many other things which differ depending on what the dog needs to do. And when it comes to trips that are overnight or longer, there is a lot more which needs to be considered such as food, bowls, clean up supplies, crates or sleeping mats, vaccination records, and other things. But for many service dog handlers, a wheelchair or white cane simply cannot do what needs to be done efficiently or quickly, and many times cannot give the personal confidence and reassurance that handling a properly trained service dog can bring.

When one truly has an understanding of what the day-to-day life of a person with a disability who uses a service dog is, one is in a better position to see that it isn’t ‘luck’; it’s adaptability. It’s overcoming. It’s finding a way to get things done in spite of the challenges one faces. In the simplest term: It’s doing what works best to be as independent as possible. There is no ‘luck’ involved.

Happy update from young Kaylee’s mom, Linda

Such a happy update from young Kaylee’s mom, Linda! Kaylee suffers from progressive hearing loss, and her SD Trixster is so wonderful. We are going to do more specialized training regarding Kaylee’s hearing needs, but Linda did want to share this.

” Hi Laurie! I wanted to share with you a very good experience. Kaylee has severe allergies to pretty much everything outdoors. She had started a shot treatment while we were in Germany, but stopped when we moved stateside. She finally said she was ready to start again so we made her an appointment with an allergist here in the medical center. We knew that they would be repeating the skin test and Kaylee really wanted to take Trixster with her. I was a little hesitant because it is an allergy clinic and they must have a lot of patients with allergies to dogs, but in the end I told Kaylee we would take him but if we were asked to take him outside we would given the circumstances. Surprisingly enough, they were completely OK with Trixster being there! The doctor even allowed Trixster to sit up in the patient bed with Kaylee! When I asked him if he was sure, he just smiled and said “I have staff that can clean up the room once your gone and the next patient won’t even know he was here.” How awesome is that? I don’t know if people just respond differently to kids with Service Dogs rather than adults with Service Dogs, but I feel so blessed that we have never had a problem taking Trixster anywhere!”