Fake Service Dogs

Fake Service Dogs

Anyone who knows me or any member of my family knows we’re lovers of dogs. Actually, most of my family are lovers of animals. (Not literally; in a platonic sense.) I’m a HUGE proponent of animal adoption, the ASPCA, and hate the number of breeders that exist. There is no reason at all to buy a dog, with the number that is euthanized each and every hour of every day of every year. It’s tragic. And beyond dogs, there are few animals I haven’t had and cared for, including an alligator.

I’ve spent over 45 years now, usually with at least one dog around and often many more. I’ve helped care for 11 dogs at once, 8 being puppies, and if I could, I’d take care of as many as possible. I recently had a dog I adopted from the Asheville, NC animal shelter and she lived well past 16 years old – almost 17 years, which is uncommon for a Retriever/German Shepherd mix. I’m still trying to get over her passing and the reason I don’t run out and adopt another as people suggest is that dealing with her death was so difficult. I had to do it alone and it was awful. I can’t imagine going through that again.

Getting off topic, but I wanted to establish that I have a heart for dogs. And people that genuinely need service animals. But I’ve noticed as the internet ages, the number of “service dogs” has grown. And many of these dogs aren’t legitimate – people buy vests and obtain letters online for dogs that are not service dogs just so they can take them places they typically cannot, for good reasons.

fake service dog

Businesses and parks and airlines and other public spaces restrict animals for some common sense reasons. Uncertified animals can attack people, including children that might touch them and startle them, prompting them to bite. It’s how I’ve been bitten twice in the face by dogs as a child. They urinate and defecate on merchandise. They defy sanitation rules in restaurants. And on and on. Some people have allergies to dogs, so bringing them on an airplane to be nearby for hours is inconsiderate, to say the least. Some dogs attack other dogs, including actual service dogs, which are expensive, and serve an actual purpose, beyond a pet.

Training service dogs can cost up to $25,000. There are several types of “services” dogs may offer. Actual service dogs have been trained to do things for their disabled partners that humans can’t do themselves and they’re allowed, by law just about anywhere their handlers go with a few exceptions.

therapy dog, on the other hand, is trained to provide comfort to people, usually non-family members, in need of affection and interaction and is not an official service dog. There are specific certifications required for therapy dogs, but they are not entitled to any of the privileges of service dogs.

Somewhere between these two fall emotional support dogs (ESD), that provide comfort for their handlers with a disability by their mere presence. They have no training to perform tasks and don’t qualify as service dogs, but they still have some access rights. They must be allowed in all housing and in airplanes. However they aren’t entitled to enter businesses and other public places where dogs are usually prohibited, and owners may be required to present a signed note from a mental health professional stating a need for the ESD.

A psychiatric service dog (PSD) does qualify as a service dog. A PSD helps its handler cope with mental disabilities, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, autism, anxiety disorder, and schizophrenia. They may alert panic attacks, help with mobility if the handler is dizzy from medication, remind the handler to take medication, interrupt self-mutilation, provide room searches or safety checks, or perform a variety of tasks specific to that handler’s needs.

This past week I took my 3-year-old daughter to a playground that also has a water facility, or “sprayground.” Kids love it and there were probably around 60-80 kids running around playing. No dogs are allowed in the fenced area, for good reasons, save service dogs. As we approached the playground, a family was leaving with their “service dog” which was some type of pit bull mix with another, much larger breed, producing about a 100-pound pit bull. With a service dog vest. 60-80 rowdy kids running around. A recipe for disaster.

I know it’s argued you can’t spot a fake service dog vs. a real one. But 99% of the time, you can if you know anything about dog behavior and watch the “service” dog for a while. You can tell if they’ve been trained to be service dogs or not. Most service dog breeds will be a retriever, German Shepherd, greyhound or a breed well-known for their gentle demeanor. (Not all, but the vast majority.) You can tell by their focus on their owner and on the tasks at hand, and not distracted by noises, children, or whatever most other dogs will be distracted by. They’re working dogs, at work.

I’ve even worked with a lady who claimed to have PTSD from some nameless event and desired to bring her dog to work. Her dog was very sweet, and I love having dogs around at work. So my point here isn’t that I don’t want dogs around. Personally, I’m generally more than fine with it. But there are employees who don’t like dogs, are allergic or have some legitimate reason to not want a dog there. And I was 99% certain the “service dog” was a fake and the vest was a costume purchased online. And her desire conflicted with certain other employees which caused an unnecessary personal conflict at work.

service dog

Entire websites are devoted to selling service dog identifications along with providing handy tips (once you’ve paid their registration fee) on what to say if confronted. The websites offer links to questionable psychiatric services that will provide you with a letter stating you need an emotional support dog pending your responses to an online test and a couple of phone sessions.

There are immediate problems I’ve stated about fake service dogs. But another more concerning problem is that the general public was once fine with allowing the few legitimate service dogs for the blind and serious needs. However, when fake service dogs begin to increase in number for less serious “needs” that dogs can’t even be tested to serve for, like seizures or diabetes, and untrained dogs attack people, other dogs, including legitimate service dogs, then the general public will grow more disdainful towards these people and their animals. Unrecognizable symptomatic conditions have been tacked on over recent years, while businesses have become (sadly) gunshy about questioning animal handlers for fear of lawsuits. They can legally only ask 2 questions:

1) Is the dog needed because of a disability?

2) What task has the dog been trained to perform to mitigate the disability?

Anything beyond that and you’re pushing your luck.

A Simple Egg Salad Recipe

A Simple Egg Salad Recipe

Perfect Egg Salad

The egg salad sandwiches at The Masters are among the best in the world. But egg salad isn’t hard to make if you know how. Here’s a simple egg salad recipe that’s probably just like the ones at The Masters. I make it and a variation which is egg and tuna salad all the time, which I plan on one day putting a how-to with photos here for reference. Not all recipes have to be Chateaubriand, you know.

ingredients:

  • 6 hard-cooked eggs, diced
  • 1/2 cup diced celery
  • 2-1/2 Tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1 Tbsp vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/8 tsp pepper

Cooking hard “boiled” eggs are something most people seem to think involves tossing some eggs in a pot of boiling water for a while, then drain rinse & peel, but to make good hard-cooked eggs, which should be the goal if you actually are going to make your own or feed this to others who may care about what they eat, isn’t difficult. Or shouldn’t be, but it sort of is if you don’t know the science behind it. There are a lot of ways to mess it up, with off-colored yolks, overcooked, rubbery eggs, or ones that are difficult to peel. The worst thing ever is to make egg salad with a shell in it to break someone’s tooth on.

I’ve tried tons of different ways to do it, including Alton Brown’s and Cooking Illustrated‘s methods, which I usually trust to be the “best” way, since they go through the time and resources to test and scientifically examine the science behind cooking, which is all cooking is. Alton got his method from Shirley Corriher of Cookwise fame, who is an expert on such things. When you’re applying some type of heat to food, you’re performing science. And science is something that should be able to be repeated on a consistent basis by anyone with the right tools and ingredients.

egg cooker

Send your egg salad into space with a UFO. Or the useful Dash egg cooker.

What I’ve come to use, however, is something I found on clearance at Target, which is a steamer by Dash for about five bucks. I also tried using a microwave steamer that looks like a chicken, and another that cooks one egg at a time in the shape of an egg. The best, by far, is the Dash steamer. The one egg at a time plastic gizmo wrecked the eggs, and cooked them inconsistently. It wasn’t good for either recipes or just making a single egg to serve to my daughter, who loves to eat lightly salted hard-cooked eggs. Just the whites, though.

chicken egg cooker

Eggs are interesting things, scientifically. A marvel of nature. Honey is another marvel of nature. I only recently learned, or should say realized, that farm fresh eggs don’t need to be refrigerated. If you wash and chill them in the refrigerator, though, you need to maintain the temperature. But eggs have a protective coating that keeps bacteria out and you can just keep them on the counter or wherever until needed. This is an article that explains it in some detail.

Some things I know about eggs that I find to be valuable knowledge: the base of the egg has an air pocket. And fresh eggs should have yolks that stand up tall when cracked into a pan, not flatten out. If the yolk just collapses, you have some not-so-fresh eggs. And I think the difference between whether the chicken egg is white or brown depends on the type of bird laying it. Also the opaque slimy thing in eggs is called the chalaise(sp), which is fun to say.

 

 

 

Louisville’s Homicide Problem

Louisville’s Homicide Problem

Like most cities these days, Louisville is under seige by an abnormally high homicide rate. The theories for this phenomenon, which is happening in nearly every city in the US, are interesting, to say the least. Some are sound, some are stupid. Unfortunately, what’s being done falls on tiptoeing down the middle politically, which is resulting in no improvement.

Here’s a map of Lousiville’s homicides for the past 6 months. The prior 6 months are identical; the mapping system I have access to only goes back 6 months, for some reason though.

louisville homicides

See any pattern here? I do. The red line going down the middle is where most Louisvillians would identify west Louisville from East Louisville. And I have a feeling the homicides on the east side were perpetrated by at least a couple of people that came over from the west side and were involved in a robbery or other crime that went south. There just isn’t a lot of violent crime on the East end, which is where I happen to live, and was a consideration when deciding where to live in Louisville. West Louisville also happens to be predominantly black. (But don’t tell anyone.)

Unfortunately, the people that need to be able to see this can’t for some reason. This map’s a lot like the one you’d find of Chicago, or any city in the USA these days. The homicide rate has exploded since Ferguson and the uproar over Michael Brown’s death. People want to blame it on all sorts of things, but to me the most logical is that after Ferguson, and subsequent calls of violence towards police, in addition to an outward display of hatred for police by the very communities that need them the most, police have taken a more hands-off approach to policing those areas. West Louisville in this case. Who can blame them? They’re being gunned down execution-style as a thank-you, when they’re out trying to help people for a relatively paltry salary. Although I believe the police in Louisville are paid quite well, compared to the rest of the country. Not enough to go out and face a violent death every day, though.