Opportunities for Education Everywhere

So I have been slacking in the blogging department… big time.  So many cool things have happened and I just realized that I have a nearly completed blog post about going to the “Holiday” concert (isn’t it interesting that in the interest of being politically correct it has become pretty much taboo to say Christmas…) with Judah at my nephew’s school (K-4).  So I have some work to do!  I will make sure I get that post up ASAP because it’s a pretty neat one. 🙂

Recently I made a trip to the grocery store with my mother (I know, cute right?), the same grocery store that I was working at right after my diagnosis, point being- people know me personally there.  Any time I go in to this store I always chat with former co-workers and friends about life or the weather but lets be real, they really just want to talk about Judah.  At first is was usually, “I didn’t know you trained service dogs!” or “You are training service dogs now?” but as I explain to more people I think this little bit of information has made it’s way around the store because it happens less and less these days.  I am sure that some of these people think (like people often do) that I am totally full of shit, I find that around here it happens a lot but in a more populated area I NEVER get questioned.  It has to do with exposure and education I’m sure (that’s a nice way of saying while I love living in the woods but people around here can be ignorant, morons- not all of them, but enough) so I just go about my business.  Others think it is amazing and inspiring (more along the lines of what I think their reaction should be, Judah is amazing!).

This particular trip my mother referred to me as a celebrity at the grocery store, not a title to covet- seriously.  I’m not sure why but everyone wanted to talk to me, including one of the deli ladies who decided that Judah needed a slice of turkey, she wouldn’t take no thank you for an answer.  Before we even entered the store a gentleman stopped me outside to ask if Judah was a Husky.  I explained that he was a mix and the man told me he was beautiful (who could argue with that? (; ) and entered the store in front of us.  As my mother and I were standing at the deli counter I was again approached by the man and he said, “When he is finished training will he go to help a disabled person?” Not again.

Well I had two choices, I could be a bitch and say, “He is helping a disabled person” and storm off (which sometimes I really want to do) but he was a friendly and polite older gentleman who clearly wasn’t trying to be rude, so I went with option two.  “He’s mine, he’s working now.”  Well sometimes this causes people to begin to grill me, they feel entitled to know why I have a service dog, if he was really a service dog, as well as my medical history and that can really get to me.  However, this man replied, “I know you don’t have to tell me and I understand if you would rather not answer but may I ask what his ‘medical alert’ is for?”  WOW, that is refreshing.  First of all this shows he actually took the time to read the patches on Judah’s vest (people honestly don’t read them, until after I ask them to not harass him because he is working) and secondly he clearly didn’t feel entitled to the information, he was honestly curious.

I explained that I am a type 1 diabetic and Judah alerts me to high and low blood sugars.  I explained the other tasks Judah can perform and then ended up explaining that Judah is a “natural alerter” who taught himself this skill and then trained me to understand what he was doing. 🙂  He then began to ask me what else service dogs can be used for and what kinds of programs there are out there for these types of dogs.  He also asked me where he could donate to such a program!  Wow, what a cool guy!  I gave him some suggestions and told him how to search for programs he might want to donate to.  By this time we had created a little crowd in front of the deli and everyone was listening in and commenting on Judah and his behavior (at that point he was laying on the floor in front of the deli case while people reached over him for wraps and to get their orders from the deli girls, he was just watching me).  We wished each other a nice day and went our separate ways.

We finished up our shopping and went to the service center checkout line, the store was pretty busy at this point and we were among a lot of people standing in checkout lines.  My former supervisor came by and asked me how Judah was doing with his training and alerting, I again explained what he does and how accurate he is etc etc etc.  While I was talking the older gentleman approached my mother and told her that he works at a school and would like me to come and do a presentation about service dogs there, if I was interested.  He gave my mom his phone number and then thanked me again and left the store with his wife.  How neat is that?!  So hopefully I can get organized and get some kind of presentation together, then I can call him for details.  I think I need to have some business cards made with my contact information and my blog site on them, people are always looking to stop me for information, perhaps if they could just check out the blog it might get me off the hook, at least sometimes.

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