Effectively Coping with Disabilities and Raising Awareness

Rudy Sims

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Disability Nexus: Article

A Case of Mistaken Identity - From PADS Service Dog Breeze's Perspective

an article written by Tammy van der Kamp

Yesterday was a weird day. I know, because I heard Tammy say so more than once.

You know the kind of day: a day of leaving for work late because of unexpected company; a day of running into an old friend – the kind you can’t just nod ‘hi' to and keep on going; a day of erratic driving,- not by Tammy, but by those crazies making scary left-hand turns; a day of uprights treading thoughtlessly along and almost stepping on my doggie toes.

Then of course there was the case of mistaken identity. On our way home from work we wanted to cross at our usual intersection. I waited, vecroded to Tammy’s side just like she commanded. When suddenly, a lady stepped smartly in front of us, blocking Tammy’s view of the pedestrian signal. The lady was “very helpful”. She began to provide a detailed description to Tammy of the pedestrian signals, the traffic patterns and general flow of the people walking by.

“The little walk-man is flashing,” she exclaimed. “You can’t go! Now the red hand is on! Stay where you are!” She said to Tammy.

So I’m sitting there thinking to myself – I didn’t know Tammy is blind - she leads me everywhere. And, if Tammy is blind, am I a seeing eye dog? because I didn’t get trained for that, and it isn’t in my job description.

I could see that Tammy was stuck somewhere between being annoyed and wanting to laugh at the absurdity of the whole situation. We ended up having to sit through 2 lights while that lady “helped” us - and Tammy just shook her head and smiled sweetly. Aaargh! Finally she let us pass, and as we did, Tammy said, “I like your styling boots!” You should have seen the look on her face!

So, if you see a dog wearing a jacket/vest with no harness, it’s likely not a guide dog. Also, if my handler is making eye contact with you while you talk and comments on how stylin’ your boots are, it’s probably safe to assume that she or he is not blind!

More Stories By Rudy Sims

I am currently 31 years old I have a disability called cerebral palsy and I am in a wheelchair I was born with cerebral palsy and I have had three operations to try and manage it. My last operation went badly and I experienced very severe postoperative chronic pain for 10 years. I am doing great now and I want to help others with disabilities and chronic illnesses cope effectively with their conditions.