August 8, 2011

Pupdate: On The Lift

When Ruby was a pup, we worked with the funny sensation of motion. At three months old, she rode an elevator for the first time. I took her to a swaying dock and for rides on trains and buses. I also made sure she walked on all kinds of surfaces including metal grates. Early exposure like this helps in her later education, because as a service dog for a person with a mobility-related disability, Ruby needs to be completely comfortable accessing a train, bus, or van on a motorized lift.

I just received these photos and it looks like Ruby is doing really well with this exercise in advanced training. Here she is with her twin, Racine, as they experience the van lift...

then Roo waits patiently on the van as her trainer gets situated.

A few years ago, I was assisting an advanced trainer as she placed a service dog with a gentleman who had quadriplegia. He was a big fellow, strong and determined, very active in sports prior to his injury. After our training session, he and I waited together for the bus to take him home. He told me how he was looking so forward to having a service dog by his side as he took public transportation, because it was one of the hardest things he had to do as a person living with a disability.

It wasn't the physical aspect of boarding the bus that was so difficult, he explained. It was because of the many stares and glares he would get as the other passengers had to wait for the ramp to lower and rise. He told me that people would also make rude comments about him, loudly, as if he couldn't hear them. Or maybe, he said, they knew he could hear them. He described his mortification—he didn't want to inconvenience people or make them wait—and told me very honestly that it often made him cry. He was devastated, daily, by the little cruelties he experienced simply from having to go through his day a little differently than most people.

Sometimes it does take a few extra seconds to wait. But in those few seconds, it's so easy to be kind.

Thank you to Sue and to Ruby's advanced trainer for the wonderful photos.


Roxanne @ Champion of My Heart said...

With 2 family members now using wheelchairs, I have a whole new appreciation for what people face in public spaces. I cannot tell you how many horrible transportation scenarios my sister-in-law went through before getting her own van. It wasn't just the other riders, but often the bus drivers as well.

And, now, with my mom using a chair, I'm always amazed at how clueless people can be in public ... like waiting for us to ask them to make room so that we can pass on a sidewalk or get her into a public bathroom or something.

Ruby's Raiser said...

Roxanne: I'm so sorry for what your family members have had to endure in public. Sadly, I've been told many stories from individuals with disabilities about poor treatment in the places we mention and on planes as well. It's such a small thing to be considerate and kind, but it makes such a tremendous difference.

Roxanne @ Champion of My Heart said...

I also got word, and hope to write about, a friend of a friend who got kicked out of a cupcake shop with her service dog. She is blind, and they were celebrating 13 years of being paired together. Apparently, the cupcake store manager flipped out over the dog and made them leave.

Ruby's Raiser said...

How painful that must have been for her. It's thankfully rare that I've had to explain ADA policy, but for many individuals with disabilities, it unfortunately happens more often than it should.

For those who have questions about access laws in regard to service animals, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) FAQ can be found here:

scotsmad said...

Thanks for the reminder.

SHE used to work with Blind and Vision Impaired children.....many have gone to full lives with Guide dogs. Just knowing you're not alone when facing the world is such a boost.

XXXOOO Daisy, Kendra & Bella

Boondocks and The Love Shack Pack said...

You sure are doing a great job there, Ruby!!!

Boondocks & The Love Shack Pack

♥♥♥ The OP Pack ♥♥♥ said...

So many ignorant and rude people around. Our Mom used to take her Mom around in a wheelchair and she was always amazed at how few people would help her with doors and such. But then too there are those few kind souls who are right there before you even know you need help.

We are sure Ruby will be a great addition to the life of some person in need of her help, and SHE will be the draw to get others to help and not to be rude.

Woos ~ Phantom, Thunder, Ciara, and Lightning

1000 Goldens said...

That breaks my heart that people are struggling with everything we take for granted, and others still manage to hurt them even more. I hope that guy now has a dog as sweet as Roo to help support him in his life.

Keep up the good work Ruby and Sue - we're proud of you!

Amy said...

It's heart breaking to hear how this man was affected by the comments made by such inconsiderate people. Are we in such a hurry these days that we can't spare a moment to be kind to others? What a sad commentary on our society.

Gunnar said...

What a touching story. Thanks for giving to others. Helping the trainers and the wonderful heart you have for the animals and the people.

AVCr8teur said...

That is such a sad story. Hopefully, it will be a reminder for people to look at the situation differently and be kinder to people with disabilities.