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Here is a direct quote from the US Dept. of Justice on the most current service animals regulations:
"Service animals are working animals, not pets. The work or task a dog has been trained to provide must be directly related to the person’s disability. Dogs whose sole function is to provide comfort or emotional support do not qualify as service animals under the ADA."
In other words, if your pet is your little huggy bear, and just makes you so darned happy when things go sour, then leave it home when you dine out, and rush on home with that doggy bag for Fido, cause we just know that you are both so sad when parted! Your dog doesn't belong in a restaurant. If you suffer from severe PTSD and your dog is highly trained to help you get thru an episode, then yes, have your dog by your side. Being scared of flying doesn't count. Wanting your dog to travel with you 'cause your'e best buddies doesn't count. And if you bring your "real" service dog into a grocery store, don't put it in the damned cart! That's where our food goes and your dog has poop on his feet! I have observed fake service dogs in grocery stores, sticking their heads in the chicken freezers. C'mon, where is your concern for others?
If you are truly disabled, you have all of my empathy and your well trained dog gets a pass. If you use a low dog for diabetes, you have my empathy, but most diabetics that I know, including my own daughter, just bring a meter and sugar with them when they travel. In other words, they take responsibility for their own selves and don't put others at risk for their convenience. No one used to complain about guide dogs for the blind. If you think that your dog is really your child, and the rules don't apply to you since you bought a vest online, well, I call BS.
The public rights trump your private selfish rights. Dogs are not people. Deal with it.
I have plenty of direct empathy for folks with disabilities. My Dad became a C1-2 quad after breaking his neck in Hawaii; like Christopher Reeves without the money. But this wanton abuse of the service animal system does not help those with real handicaps. Instead, it hurts everyone else, the innocents who don't want to travel with dogs loose on planes or sitting on the same seats we do, or see dogs in grocery stores or restaurants, or waiting in line at the post office. What, stamp prices make ya nervous, too?
Worst of all, it creates a backlash for those with real service dogs, who are deserving of our consideration.
Frankly, the proliferation of service dogs in the SF Bay Area has soured me on dogs in general. And I am an animal lover from way back! It's not the dogs fault, of course, but the people who bring them everywhere, because they are so so special and they think that their dogs are, too.
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