Here is the story about what happened after I was partnered with Sita. That was 13 years ago on October 22nd, 2007 that I brought this wonderful companion home. The picture was taken a couple of years later when we returned to CircleTail and toured their new training center! We have certainly had a great life together!
“Who is this that obscures my plans with words without knowledge?” Job 38:2
I discovered early on there was more to having a service dog than bonding. The next three days of training were as hard as any workshop or doctoral class I had ever experienced.
Marlys started our training by explaining the laws about the American with Disabilities Act as they pertained to service dogs. I made the mistake of thinking this would be review for me since I taught college classes on the ADA. However, it was important that I learn exactly what the law entailed about taking Sita into public places such as restaurants, stores, and on public transportation. Churches and private clubs were the only places that legally could bar Sita from entry.
Little did I know I was going to use this knowledge sooner than I had anticipated. Just two days after Marly’s ADA class, I readied Sita and me to check out of the hotel. I packed to go home and loaded up my car. Since I was not used to having a dog, I accidentally left her service dog vest in the room.
The door to my room was locked when I returned. I saw a hotel employee and asked him to please unlock the door. He did not speak much English and kept repeating, “No dog. No dog.”
Patiently I told him several times that we had been there for four evenings, Sita was a service dog, and I needed her vest.
He kept insisting he could not let me back in the room. To my surprise, Sita got in front of me and began to emit a soft bark. She is not allowed to bark under any circumstance, but she knew it was her job to protect me.
I think he finally let me in because of Sita. She was not threatening in any way or moving towards him but she was making sure he did not get any closer to me.
I grabbed the vest and left. Just as I entered the hall, a woman who must have been his supervisor appeared. She scowled at us. I looked at her triumphantly with Sita’s vest verifying she was my service dog.
I stated, “This is a service dog. We are allowed here. We have both been staying here for the last four evenings.” Her dirty look bored into my back as I walked down the hall with Sita at my side. I realized that Sita was going to bring new complications into my life, but she would always be there for me. I knew that God walked with us that day, and that if God is with us, who could be against us?
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11
Thank you for the wisdom of the ADA laws that protect the rights of persons with disabilities. Amen