GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. — Assistance dogs are much more than pets. They are supporters and caretakers for people with disabilities.
Vickie Seal of Grand Junction is partially sighted, and uses her guide dog, Mattye, to help her navigate life. Seal says, “my choice is to have a guide dog because it’s a second mind to know that there is a car coming or there is something in my way.”
For more than 25 years, Seal has used guide dogs to help her eliminate boundaries, and she says they love doing so.
However, not any dog can be a service dog. Assistance dogs require special training, and they’re matched with a person based on that person’s disability. And in order for these hard-working dogs to do their job properly, please do not bother them. The best thing you can do is admire from a distance.
Also, if your dog is not a legal and trained assistance dog, do not say it is because for a person whose life depends on the focus of their dog, any distraction can be catastrophic. Seal adds, “it can be scary if that dog hurts my dog because then I don’t have anything to fall back to for assistance.”
In addition, Seal says she sometimes faces challenges at businesses or restaurants. However, according to the American’s with Disabilities Act, no one can turn away a true service dog or ask to see paperwork for proof. The only two questions you can ask are, “Is that an assistance dog?” and “How does that dog assist you?”