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A Spoonie and Her Service Dog: Invisible Disabilities

Why you shouldn't tell a service dog handler that they don't look disabled.

By Kayla PowellPublished 7 years ago 2 min read
A fawn colored pitbull type dog in a tan service dog vest on a hospital bed with its handler.

My name is Kayla, I'm a service dog handler. My service dog is Clyde and he's my "pawtner in crime." I have noticed that a lot of people are skeptical when it comes to handlers like myself because we don't look disabled so in this article, we are going to discuss invisible disabilities and why you shouldn't tell someone that they don't look disabled.

Often times when people hear the words "service dog" they think of a dog guiding a blind person or assisting someone in a wheelchair. This is perfectly fine, service dogs definitely do help those people, but they also help people like me who have disabilities that you can't see. Service dogs are being trained to help mitigate more and more disabilities. People who have diabetes, seizures, chronic pain, and other disabilities are able to live their lives because of these dogs. According to the Americans with Disabilities Act, as long as the dog is trained to perform tasks to mitigate a disability, it is a service dog. Someone with chronic pain can have their dog help pick things up or carry items. Diabetics have dogs that alert them to their sugar levels so they know when to administer insulin. And people who have seizures can be told in advance to an episode so that they can prepare to avoid getting hurt.

Service dogs don't just help physical disabilities, they can also assist psychological disabilities as well such as anxiety, PTSD, and autism. Just like with a physical disability, psychiatric disabilities can affect how people live their daily lives. Clyde happens to be this type of service dog. Having anxiety, PTSD, or autism can be hard. Psychiatric service dogs perform tasks such as deep pressure therapy, tactile stimulation, or episode interruption to help mitigate these disabilities.

Telling a service dog handler that they don't look disabled is rude and impolite. We don't walk up to you and tell you that you look ugly, so you shouldn't insult us. Some of us can feel insulted or feel as though you are trying to attack us for being different just because we have our service dog with us. Yelling at someone for not looking disabled can also trigger anxiety attacks. Some people were abused or associate yelling or insults with memories that could possibly cause them to have flashbacks as well. You should never cause someone physical or psychological harm for any reason.

In short, not every disability is visible and it is rude and can cause people distress if you yell at people for not looking disabled so just don't do it.

If you would like to learn a bit more please visit this website.


About the Creator

Kayla Powell

I am a college student who is thriving despite many mental illnesses. I am a service dog handler and animal lover. And I am a single mother of a very handsome little boy.

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