Service Dogs and Therapy Dogs

Kate Abbott, Petra Burke & Liz Palika  on Pet Life Radio

Do you know what the difference is between these two types of working dogs? Many people get therapy dogs and service dogs confused. In this podcast Liz, Petra and Kate will discuss the differences (and similarities) as well as what is required of the dogs and their owners. They will also talk about the Americans with Disabilities Act as it pertains to service dogs. Tune in for all the scoop!


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Announcer: It’s a big world out there, and you are just looking for a pat on the back or head. You run around the city searching for a place to bark, working your tail off with your nose to the ground sniffing for a few scraps hoping someone will throw you a bone.  You take each lead, cover after cover, hoping one day to take a bite out of success and become the “top dog.”  Fortunately, you come home each day to open arms, open cans of drink waiting for you and a comfortable place in front of the TV set. You know you got it good, really good, because after all it’s a doggy dog world out there.  Pet Life Radio presents “It’s a Doggy Dog World” with your host, pet expert and award-winning author, Liz Palika, and this week’s co-hosts, Kate Abbott and Petra Burke.

Liz Palika:  Welcome to “It’s A Doggy Dog World” on Pet Life Radio. This is Liz Palika, your host, and with me today are my good friends and co-workers, Petra Burke and Kate Abbott…

Petra Burke: Hello.

Kate Abbott: Hello.

Liz Palika: …from the Kindred Spirits Canine Education Center in Vista, California. At Kindred Spirits, we train both therapy dogs and their owners and service dogs and their owners. So in this show today, we're going to talk a little bit about therapy dogs are and the requirements and what service dogs are. Often, we have some misunderstandings from dog owners as to what these dogs do, what the definition of therapy dog is. What the definition of service dog is and what rights the dogs have? So we're going to discuss that in a little bit of detail today.

First though, let's take a break for our sponsors. So hold on, we'll be right back.

Man: Sit. Stay. “It’s a Doggy Dog World” will be right back after a short “paws.” Well, four to be exact.

[podcast break]

Man: We know you're begging for more, so back to “It's A Doggy Dog World” with your fetching hosts, Liz Palika, and this week’s co-hosts, Kate Abbott and Petra Burke.

Liz Palika: Welcome back to “It's A Doggy Dog World” on Pet Life Radio. I'm Liz Palika. Today we're going to talk about service dogs and therapy dogs. On the first half of the show, let's talk about therapy dogs because those are gaining in popularity. We hear from a lot of people who want to train their dog as a therapy dog and want to do therapy dog volunteer work.

So Kate, who also happens to be President of the San Diego North County Chapter of Love on a Leash, a national therapy dog organization, we'll get her to give us a definition of therapy dog. Ms. President.


Liz Palika: You may bow.

Kate Abbott: No, thank you. Correct me on the legal definition, but what I usually tell people is that a therapy dog is a dog that you take to visit and bring happiness to other people. They may be in a nursing home, they may be children in a group home, they may be the hospice patients. We also have a program where the dogs go the libraries and the kids read books to the dogs to help improve their reading ability and to bring joy to the kids as well. Obviously, the dogs seem to be well behaved but even before that--you can train for that--but the dogs need to enjoy meeting people.

Liz Palika: I was always told people are interested in it, it's a prerequisite. Does your dog like people, I mean, really enjoy being with people, first and foremost.

Kate Abbott: Then the rest is training.

Liz Palika: Yes. One of the definitions that I used to help differentiate between the two types of dog is a therapy dog is your dog that you train to assist other people in some way. A service dog is a dog that you train or has been trained to assist yourself and that can help clarify it a little bit to other people, I think. So a therapy dog is a partnership between you and your dog to give joy and warmth and affection to other people.

So besides being of social temperament and well socialized to other people, therapy dogs also need to be exposed to the sights and sounds and things that they might run into in a nursing home or a school or a daycare center or a hospital. That can mean different types of flooring, that can mean sheet being shaken out, a trash bag being shaken out. That can be the hissing of a respirator or the smell of a catheter bag, all kinds of different things.

Kate Abbott: Balloons.

Liz Palika: True, balloons, yes.

Kate Abbott: Yes, [xx] into balloons in a couple of parties with the kids and with the seniors and those were very interesting to the dogs. They handled it well.

Petra Burke: Well, I think, first you'll let them know therapy dogs can be any breed and we've all had that questions. I have a Chihuahua, it's so little, can it be a therapy dog? Well, of course, if he likes people and we can start from there. People like pit bulls, Rottweilers, Doberman, they're worried. “Do they like to do therapy dog? I don’t know, I have a pit bull, Jake, who was one of our pity and he does the veterans, right down [xx], VA.

Liz Palika: Right, [xx] it's the Wounded Warriors at the Veterans Administration Center.

Petra Burke: They love him and he's absolutely wonderful with them.

Liz Palika: Actually, Love on a Leash has quite a few dogs of breeds that might not be assumed to be therapy dogs. Rottweilers, German shepherds, Dobermans, pit bulls, [xx], Airedales, a lot of working breeds that people might not think would be good therapy dogs.

Kate Abbott: The last group I visited with my dog, we had everything from a rabbit to a very small papillon to an English mastiff.


Liz Palika: Well, we've even trained miniature horses…

Kate Abbott: There you go.

Liz Palika: …and ponies. Love on a Leash is one of the few organizations that does allow animals of other species. I believe the Dog Society also allows animals of other species. But the last time I checked, I believe Therapy Dog International was strictly for dogs. But animals of other species can certainly provide love and affection, too, so it doesn’t just have to be dogs although dogs are the predominant visiting animals.

Kate Abbott: If I may add some little nice novelty, too?

Liz Palika: Sure.

Kate Abbott: People are always amazed that it's a real bunny, not a stuffed bunny. We also have cat [xx] that comes to visit. The nice thing about the rabbit, the cat, and the small dogs is you can put them in the lap of someone without worrying too much about. At least, they don’t have to be under control and watch but you don’t have to worry too much about the weight on someone’s lap in a wheelchair or with thin skin.

But with someone like Margaret, the mastiff, she's also nice because she's tall enough to stand next to a chair and you don’t have to worry about someone falling out of the chair while petting her, she's tall enough to reach easily even from the hospital bed, frankly, with Margaret.

Liz Palika: Well, the other questions we're often asked is about the age of the dog. Now, most of the therapy dog organizations do require that the dog be at least a year old for certification, but training can obviously start much younger than that. Many people do get a dog as a puppy and raise him, socialize him, and train him with the goal of being a therapy dog later.

But at the other end of the spectrum, there's no upper age limit either. We have many, many grizzled, gray-faced, old dogs who make absolutely wonderful therapy dogs. One of the benefits of that is that, especially if you're visiting senior citizens, they empathize with that grizzled, gray face [laughter] and the dog who’s a little stiff when he gets up and walks. So that’s wonderful, too.

But the older dog has seen life, has been exposed to every thing, is probably pretty well trained [xx] and probably unflappable. Most old dogs don’t get excited about a whole lot. It's like, “Yes, yes, been there, done that.” So that’s wonderful, too. So there's no age requirement at the upper end as long as the dogs are behaved, well socialized and, of course, healthy. We don’t want to take a dog who’s sick or not feeling well on a visit, they can be too much stress. But as long as they're healthy, there's no upper end.

Petra Burke: Also with the physical of the dog as far as--we've had dogs with three legs and that have done visits.

Liz Palika: Deaf dogs.

Petra Burke: Deaf dogs that have done visits as therapy dogs. It helps, too, that the patient’s child, usually the kids, are so scared they may have lost a leg, a limb for some reason, and things that are odd ball and people are going to stare. All of a sudden, here comes the dog that’s in a similar situation.

Liz Palika: That doesn’t care that he's got three legs.

Petra Burke: And still happy and enjoys life.

Liz Palika: Yes, yes, and that’s happened quite a few times. Other dogs who may have other disabilities--if a dog is blind and he's got a good relationship with his owner and he trusts his owner and he's OK with new situations, a blind dog can certainly be a therapy dog. Deaf dogs who can still see seem to cope a little bit better, and we've had quite a few deaf dogs. We've had dogs with other disabilities that have been able to be very good therapy dogs. So there's no requirement or restrictions on that also.

Petra Burke: I think with Kona, we talked previously he's become blind a few years into his life but still, it's got the seventh sense that kicks in. There's time [xx] that you run class, he's sitting there next to somebody. Doesn’t see him obviously, but had sensed they need a little therapy. He just sat there, just loving [xx] someone, and also they know.

Kate Abbott: That’s one of the wonderful points is when a therapy dog figures out his job and they're always looking to do it.

Liz Palika: Always looking to do it. I've taken my guys on walks and I can't tell you how many times they see a wheelchair and it's like they're an arrow shot out of a bow. “Woohoo! There's a wheelchair! The person in that chair needs my love and needs it now.” I had to apologize to someone at one point. My dogs and I were out for a walk, a gentleman got himself out of his van, lowered the lift down, rolled his chair off, and my dogs went, “Must see him!” My well trained, supposedly well-trained, wonderful dogs put themselves up to this guy’s chair, and I had to say, “I'm sorry, my dogs are therapy dogs. They assumed you need love.” [laughter] Luckily, he had a good sense of humor and he pet them both and we were able to continue with our walk.

Petra Burke: I think we've done that. We went to a show or something, all of a sudden, our dogs, all of them were therapy dogs, and we walked past somebody with a wheelchair and also we're walking straight, the dogs were pulling us towards the wheelchair. “Sorry.” [xx] scare to see those pack of dogs. [laughter] “Hey, hey, hi! Can we sit in the wheelchair? Can we [xx] love on you?”

Liz Palika: “Must love you.” Luckily, most people take it as the dogs meant it.

Kate Abbott: Well, was it a couple of weeks ago, when we went up to Big Sur on a camping trip with the dogs, stopped and [xx] on the way back [xx]. All of a sudden, my Walter, we're out giving them a potty break, he sees a woman standing and it's something about her and he said, “I must go say hi.”

Liz Palika: That’s right.

Kate Abbott: Remember?

Liz Palika: He was determined.

Kate Abbott: Oh, he was digging and scrabbling, pulling and I'm going, “Yes, he's well-trained. Yes, he is. I'm a dog trainer. Yes.”

Liz Palika: But once he said hi to her, he's fine.

Kate Abbott: I had to do that, “Hi, excuse me, my dog thinks he knows you and he wants to say hi.” She went, “Oh, OK, yes.”

Liz Palika: Yes, she did seem a little forlorn though, like she was waiting for somebody that was laid or whatever. She wasn’t at her happiest.

Kate Abbott: After she’d given him hugs, and that’s all he really wanted. Once she petted him and said hi, it was, “OK, I'm done. Now, we can move on.” She did say, “Thank you, I needed that.”

Liz Palika: He sensed it.

Kate Abbott: He knew it.

Liz Palika: Now, some of the training that therapy dogs need, obviously, basic obedience. They need to be able to sit and lie down on command. They need to hold a stay, it doesn’t have to be a long stay but they need to be able to hold a stay. They need to walk nicely on a leash. Now, a strict, formal obedience competition heel is not required but they need to be able to walk nicely on a leash and, especially, through a crowd or through distractions. If you and the dog are walking down the hallway at a nursing home and there's a crowd of people or there's some staff members and some patients, obviously, the dog needs to walk nicely so he's not tangling people up on a leash or pulling or dragging or whatever. So walking nicely on a leash is important.

The dog cannot jump on people. The dog cannot paw and scratch. You can imagine if visiting someone with very fragile skin and the dog rakes them with those hard claws, that can be disastrous. Jumping on people can knock someone over. And again, bad news, the dog cannot put his mouth on people. Now, kissing, that’s a little different and there are pros and cons to that.

My boy, Riker, of course, thinks that everybody needs his kisses. Unfortunately, he can be rough and he can be way too enthusiastic and so put limits on that. Usually, I ask people, “Do you like doggy kisses?” If they say yes, he's allowed to give a couple of slurps and then he has to stop.

Kate Abbott: But then you have to ask them twice, “Do you really, really like dog kisses?”

Liz Palika: Really like doggy kisses? [laughter]

Petra Burke: He [xx] it from Riker.

Liz Palika: Yes, most of the time, Riker visits kids who enjoy his kisses. When we visit seniors, I rein him in strongly. But some people don’t like doggy kisses and so they shouldn’t have to have them if they don’t like them. Obviously, we want a dog who’s well behaved with other dogs, well behaved with people. House training, vitally important. If you have a male who’s prone to lifting his leg, he cannot his leg inside, so some very strict requirements there.

Kate Abbott: There are some specialized commands that will help make a visit more pleasurable both for your dog and the person they're visiting. Teaching them how to safely put their paws up and we use that command, “Paws up.” So a smaller dog like my Walter can get high enough for someone in a wheelchair to pet him, but I show him where to put his feet either on the wheel of the chair or on to my own arm and help him get his paws there so he's not raking the person but getting him up high enough to say hi to them.

Liz Palika: Yes, you can do that with a medium-sized dog, too. This last week, when Bashir and I were visiting a lady who was in bed and couldn’t sit up or couldn’t reach over, I had him two-paws up on the side rail of her bed. That way, she could reach him a little better. He's a little too big to put on the bed with her, but this way, she could reach him.

All right. Well, let's take a break. We've talked quite a bit about therapy dogs. So let's take a break for our sponsors for just minute. But don’t go anywhere, when we come back, we'll talk about service dogs and the difference between therapy dogs and service dogs and some of the things that are required for a service dog. So hold on, listen to our sponsors, we'll be right back.

Announcer: Sit. Stay. “It’s a Doggy Dog World” will be right back after a short “paws.” Well, four to be exact.

[podcast break]

Announcer: We know you are begging for more, so back to “It’s A Doggy Dog World” with your fetching hosts, Liz Palika, and this week’s co-hosts, Kate Abbot and Petra Burke.

Liz Palika: Welcome back to “It's A Doggy Dog World.” This is Liz Palika and with me today are Petra Burke and Kate Abbott for Kindred Spirits Canine Education Center in Vista, California. On the first half of our show, we talked about therapy dogs and what was required of therapy dogs, some of the things therapy dogs can do. This part of the show, we want to talk about service dogs.

Petra Burke: But before we go on, my thoughts is we should have at the first half is how some dogs, personality wise not necessarily breed or size, is not comfortable around the elderly or [xx] facilities. Liz and I were talking the other day, Riker and Logan, Bashir’s brother, love teenage kids like the junior high high school.

Liz Palika: The rowdier, the better.

Petra Burke: Yes! They love it. I always remember the junior high, I went to my daughter’s school to a function. Logan--there's a group of kids and want to pet him and he disappeared under this group of kids and he was happy, drooled over, belly rubbed, licking them and kissing them. They were even so thrilled that he was gentle with them, but loved all the attention and had no problem with that many kids over him. Some dogs do.

Liz Palika: On the other hand, there's Kate’s Walter who doesn’t like young kids.

Kate Abbott: Walter thinks anybody over the age of 16 is safe, but under 14, they're scary, aliens.

Liz Palika: They're scary. They run and scream and wave their hands around and they're scary.

Kate Abbott: Or even if they just stand there, they're scary. I would love to do the library reading program with him but he is not quite there yet. He may get there but not there yet.

Liz Palika: Yes, when he's 12. [laughter]

Kate Abbott: Yes, when he's [xx] over.

Liz Palika: [xx] blind, he doesn’t see them either. [laughter]

Kate Abbott: Would that help, maybe?

Liz Palika: So yes, as Petra said, it's very important that you know your dog. Therapy dog work is not just for you, you'll also need to know your dog, what your dog is comfortable with and what your dog can do.

Petra Burke: And if your dog even wants to do it. We get people that come to our classes and want to force their dog to be a therapy dog and that’s not what the dog wants to do.

Kate Abbott: One of our students was a therapist and she wanted her dog to be in the office, to be at the therapy bed for her patients. The dog did not want to be at the therapy bed. [laughs]

Liz Palika: My Bashir is also good example of that. When he was young, I didn’t--even though all my previous dogs had been therapy dogs--I knew that he wasn’t ready to do it. He didn’t like to greet strange people, he thought strangers were strange, and especially, he didn’t like people to touch his head.

Kate Abbott: Even people he knows!

Liz Palika: Even people he knows. Yes, I could, of course, my husband could, but other people, he was like, “Aaah, don’t touch my head. Pet my back.” So I let him have that space although one of our trainers was bound and determined, she was going to get him to. [laughter] And she did, she did treated him, treats for pets on the head and he gradually got used to it. But now, at the age of three and a half, he's decided therapy dog work is pretty cool and he's doing a very, very good job at it. So I let him have some space, let him grow up, let him get comfortable with the world around him, and now, he's willing to do it.

All right, on to service dogs. As we said earlier in the show, therapy dogs are privately own dogs that you train to help other people. A service dog is a dog that is trained to assist yourself. Now, there are individually trained service dogs, you can with the help of a trainer, train a dog to work for yourself. Or, there are organizations that train the dogs and place them with people.

Now, the jobs that service dogs can do are almost unlistable. They have dogs now that can detect heart irregularities and warn you of an impending heart problem. There are dogs that can detect low or high blood sugar. There are dogs that can sense an oncoming seizure. There are dogs who assist mobility. There are dogs who assist people with hearing disabilities, people with vision disabilities, emotional problems, posttraumatic stress disorder. The listing of things that dogs can assist people with is immense and to have a dog assist you with that, it takes imagination.

We do have a woman in training with one of our basic classes now who was talking to us who is diabetic and would like her little dog to help her recognize when her blood sugar is getting too low. Luckily, the dog is already starting to sense that. So she maybe able to teach this dog, eventually, with some assistance, to do that for her. It's very difficult to teach a dog to do something like this though if the dog has not already noticed the difference in you.

Luckily, dogs are very observant of their owners and they are very good at telling or noticing differences. I mean, how many of us--Kate and I were talking about this not too long ago--on 9/11 when the disaster struck, how many of us sat on our sofa and watched TV and cried and our dogs brought us toys. They saw we were distraught and the dog, in his or her own way, was trying to make us better. That’s basically what a service dog does. So there's a lot of different ways that service dogs can assist us.

Kate Abbott: I tend to think of them as, almost, medical equipment, if you will.

Petra Burke: Yes.

Liz Palika: Yes, yes.

Kate Abbott: So they do something for you that you cannot do for yourself or to assist other equipment. They can help pull a chair if you don’t have an electric chair, or even if you do, batteries [xx] on those things, pick up things for you if you can't reach them.

Petra Burke: That’s why when it comes to size the dog, I guess people just assume a service dog is a size…

Kate Abbott: A German shepherd.

Petra Burke: …a Lab or Golden, it's the first breed that’s pops into their heads. We're seeing more and more variety of breeds out there doing it. For example, Keely, my little Pom, yes, while she's not could be pulling me to a wheelchair… [laughs] I've been [xx] but that’s not going to happen!

Liz Palika: People would be calling the local Humane Society…

Petra Burke: But, a little dog like that can help with if you have a hearing disability to let you know what's going on, to pick up things.

Kate Abbott: My neighbor does have a black Pom who is her hearing alert dog.

Petra Burke: Yes. See? That’s perfect.

Liz Palika: When the smoke alarm goes off, when the baby cries, when somebody’s at the door.

Petra Burke: They can still pick up little items that’s not too heavy that could fit in their mouth, that type of thing. So yes, they can be a service dog. Like a Shepherd, he has no problem pulling a wheelchair, so he could pull the wheelchair with Keely on my lap! There we go! [laughter]

Kate Abbott: Keely will be telling you what to do.

Liz Palika: We also have a lady in training who has several medical issues including balance and her service dog who’s not yet certified but he's getting pretty close to it, assist her with balance like going up and down stairs and escalators. She has a harness for him with a handle at the point of his shoulders and he knows to lean into her and brace himself. So if she's a little unbalanced or unsteady, he can steady her until she gets her balance back.

Kate Abbott: He's doing a great job of helping her keep going with her life and not just sit at home.

Liz Palika: Right. She could still go to work, she travels.

Kate Abbott: Stairs used to really scare her.

Liz Palika: And escalators used to scare her.

Kate Abbott: Right. Now, she has a way to cope with it.

Liz Palika: And he's traveling with her and going to work with her and sits through meetings. One point, along that line, one point we have to make, Kate said that a service dog is almost like medical equipment. In that respect, the dog really shouldn’t attract a lot of attention. When we were traveling and we had the service dogs under the table, many times when we left, people would say, “Oh, we didn’t even know dogs were there.”

Petra Burke: That’s the whole idea.

Liz Palika: That’s the whole idea.

Kate Abbott: They're the best complement.

Liz Palika: Dogs really shouldn’t attract a whole lot of attention although they can be a great social icebreaker and may disabled people enjoy that because sometimes people ignore the disabled to the point that they blended into the wallpaper and that’s not good either.

Petra Burke: Or, they're staring at them because they have a disability and they just stare. But with the service dog…

Liz Palika: It's an equalizer.

Petra Burke: Yes, and they usually, looking at the dog, then they stop staring at the person.

Kate Abbott: Here's the wrong scenario. I was in a store with a woman in a chair with her service dog, the wrong scenario is the 19 to 21-year-old males that walked by and stopped and went, “Oh! Look at that dog, there's a dog in the store! Why is there a dog in here?” That would be the wrong thing to do.

Liz Palika: Yes, definitely.

Kate Abbott: On the other hand, also is, “Oh, look at the puppy! I want to pet him, I want to squeeze his head!” That’s also wrong. Do not interfere with the dog when he's doing his job.

Liz Palika: Definitely.

Kate Abbott: If you want to stop and say, “Oh, he's wonderful. May I say hi?” If the person gives their approval, fine.

Liz Palika: But don’t be offended if they don’t. Bashir is very serious when he has his service dog vest on and he knows that he is working. He's not eager to have strangers come up and say anything to him. He wouldn’t do anything wrong, he wouldn’t growl or bite or, obviously, but somebody coming up to him even if I gave permission, to him it would be out of line. So many service dog owners may tell you, “No, please, don’t pet him. He is working right now” and don’t be offended by that.

Petra Burke: The same with Keely, and people would, “Oh, my God, she's so cute!” But when she's with me, she actually is very focused on me and people could talk, could coo and love her verbally, and she’ll just, “Nope, I'm working. Thank you” and ignores it. So I do have a patch on her vest that ask to please not pet while she is working. Yet on another hand with the German shepherd, you don’t want people to be afraid, you know, “It's the German shepherd!” So we have a little patch that ask, if you want to pet him, “I'm friendly. Ask to pet.” At that point, if we feel it's appropriate at that time, whatever it is, yes or no.

Kate Abbott: Sure. Consider it, I mean, you may be distracting a dog during the time the owner’s having some heart arrhythmia. They're interrupting their job.

Petra Burke: Exactly.

Liz Palika: Right, or if the dog is providing some balance or providing some support or, in another way, working and who knows how this dog is assisting the person. So your distraction may be unwelcome.

Now, there are some differences in the rights of the dogs as far as therapy dogs and service dogs. Therapy dogs are allowed, by law, access to a facility while they're working. So if the dog is going to be visiting a nursing home, an assisted living facility, a daycare center, a school, he is allowed by law access to that facility where other dogs may or may not be allowed. A therapy dog is also allowed to use public transportation to and from those facilities. So if you're car has broken down or you don’t drive and you need to take a public transportation--the bus or the train--to get to a therapy dog visit, that is legal.

However, we strongly recommend, strongly recommend, do not abuse those privileges. We have, unfortunately, had people who had wanted to have their dog certified as a therapy dog so they could take him on a plane or so that they could take him with them everywhere. That’s not appropriate for a therapy dog. We don’t want to abuse those privileges or, eventually, the dogs may not be allowed at all.

Now, a service dog, the ADA or the American with Disabilities Act, allows service dogs to accompany their owner anywhere, anywhere the owner goes. If the owner needs assistance and goes to the grocery store, the restaurant, the department store, anywhere, that dog is allowed to accompany his owner and provide assistance. It is illegal for a business to segregate that dog and owner, to isolate them--and we've seen this happened.

Kate Abbott: Yes, it happened to us.

Liz Palika: Yes, we went to a restaurant and the hostess almost had a fit and tried to put us in a little bitty table in the corner in the dark in the back. I tried to have Bashir lay under the table which is the proper place for him in a restaurant and he, literally, had nowhere to go. We tried to cooperate with her but it wasn’t going to work. Luckily, the hostess at that point realized that, one, the dogs were well behaved. We were trying to cooperate with here but it wasn’t going to work and she gave us a more appropriate table.

The only time that a business can ask a service dog to leave is if the service dog is out of control, if he's obviously not well behaved and the owner is not controlling him, or if the dog is posing a hazard to other customers and that has to really be a significant hazard. Unfortunately, some owners do not maintain their dog’s training. Unfortunately, some dogs, perhaps, were not well enough trained in the beginning so there are some dogs who are not as well trained as we might like them to be, so that can cause some problems.

Petra Burke: Or, it's out there, people are going to earn it and get a vest, the assist service dog and their dog is not [xx]. This is their way of tricking to get in to places with their dog and that’s wrong for us who are trying…

Liz Palika: To do the right thing.

Petra Burke: Exactly.

Liz Palika: Yes. Service dogs should be the ultimate in dog training. This dog should be very obedient, should be very willing to work, very compliant, and should provide a service to their owners. They should be unobtrusive, they should be…

Kate Abbott: Well groomed, clean.

Liz Palika: …well groomed and clean. They should not be a hazard to anyone else especially other customers in a place of business and should very much be a partner with their owner.

Petra Burke: One of the things that you should need to be aware of when you go into a business is the two things that they could ask you and they have a right to. First, ask if this is a service dog, and I know one place that I've gone in and my dog was vested and showed, you know, yes, it was but they did ask anyway and I said, “Yes.” Then they can ask what task the service dogs perform, but they cannot ask you to do the Privacy Act that “What are your disabilities?” That they cannot, that’s illegal.

Liz Palika: And when they ask what service this dog provides to you, you don’t have to really go into great detail. I mean, you can say, “I have some balance problems and he helps steady me or he picks up items for me or he provides support for me.” Things like that, you don’t have to go on to great detail. You do not have to give your medical history to anyone who ask. It is just the business’ right to make sure that this is a service dog.

Petra Burke: Exactly. So the business, some of the things they cannot or may not ask is their business may require a special identification for the dog. No, you kind of have that already if you're dog is certified and legal service dog.

Kate Abbott: I wish more service dogs would wear a vest.

Liz Palika: Yes. It is much easier to identify them.

Petra Burke: Yes, yes. Again like I said, they cannot ask what the person’s disability is, they cannot charge an additional fee for the dog, refuse admittance, isolate them or segregate them or treat this person less favorably than anybody else.

Kate Abbott: That happened in San Diego a couple of weeks, a couple of months, anyway. I won't name the restaurant but it was a fastfood restaurant. The gentleman had--he's not totally blind but he did have a dog to help him for vision problems. But apparently, he didn’t look totally blind so when he went in to this fastfood place, they had a fit. They told him he had to go outside, told him, “All right, all right. We'll let you order but you have to wait outside for your food. We’ll bring it out to you, you can't sit in here.”

Liz Palika: Oh, no, no, no!

Kate Abbott: What [xx] to the whole thing is the gentleman was a lawyer with a disability nonprofit rights organization.

Liz Palika: So they did it to exactly the wrong person.

Petra Burke: Well, my daughter has a good friend, they just went this past weekend to one of the drug convenience stores type of places. Suddenly, there, right away, ran up to her manager and plead and said, “There's a dog in here. There's a dog. No dogs are allowed. No dogs allowed.” The manager told her, “Calm down, that is a service dog. They are allowed in the store.” So it was very nice that the manager was well aware, educated his employee, and the employee then started calming down, “Oh, no, there's [xx] dog.” She was just going off from what my daughter was saying. [laughter] [xx] Yes, this dog is very well behaved, very well trained.”

Kate Abbott: We were in Cosco, a gentleman of some age, I would say 70 something, came just bustling right up to me and said, “Young lady, don’t you know this is a grocery store and there's food here and you have a dog!” I said, “Yes, Sir, thank you for letting me know but he is a service dog.” “Oh, all right, then carry on.” [laughter] Now, is this a positive [xx]?

Liz Palika: Now, I had a very good incident at a large discount chain--I won't name their name because they don’t need the advertising, but a large discount chain--I walked in with Bashir. Bashir had his vest on and was at my heel behaving himself as he always does, and a clerk started towards me. I saw her out of the corner of my eye, so I slowed down and just as she started to open her mouth and point her finger, another clerk grabbed her shoulder and said, “A-a, leave them alone. That’s a service dog. He's working, he is doing a good job.” I saw the other clerk go, “Huh!?” Swallow, stuck her finger back in and go, “Ooh!” No, I did see out of the corner of my eye that she followed me for an hour or two. But you know what, if she was just curious and watching to see what Bashir did and how we behaved, that’s absolutely fine.

Kate Abbott: I actually get more comments from other customers than from employees. Customers are not bound by these regulations.

Liz Palika: Sure, sure. Yes, yes.

Kate Abbott: I try to be polite and educate them a little.

Liz Palika: Yes, exactly. And that’s what these podcasts are all about, too. So I hope we've clarified a few things for you. If you're interested in training your dog as a therapy dog or if you need the assistance of the service dog, I suggest you contact the trainer in your area. If your trainer isn't able to help you, if that’s not his or her area of specialty, perhaps, he or she can recommend another trainer that could help you.

So that’s it for this show. We've talked about therapy dogs and service dogs and the differences between them. In upcoming shows, we've got a lot more for you. I know we're going to talk about choosing a dog, how to choose the right dog for you. At some point, we're going to talk about grief, about losing a dog. My husband and I just lost our old dog, I'm not ready to talk about it yet, but in an upcoming show, we will. We've got a list of other subjects, so there's lots more to come.

So thank you for listening and we'll talk to you again later. Bye bye.

Announcer: Having a rough day? Longing for the dog days of summer? Think your fun furry friend lives a dog’s life? Well, find out everything you're begging to know as Pet Life Radio presents, “It’s a Doggy Dog World” with pet expert and award-winning author, Liz Palika.  Every dog has his day and you’ll find out how to make your dog’s day fun and rewarding every week on demand, only on

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