If it has teeth….

My own quote today…Anything with teeth can bite you.

I mean real teeth, not metaphorical for once. I’ve had a guppy latch onto my finger. I’ve had dogs, cats and guinea pigs bite me. I’ve had children bite me by accident. I’ve had teenagers bite me on purpose. Family members, students and even a stranger have bitten me. Are all these people and animals evil for biting me?

I don’t think so. Sometimes I’ve deserved it…really, if you stick your hand in a guinea pig cage you should expect a nibble. Working with students who have severe disabilities means sometimes things happen when students are frustrated. Horseplay frequently leads to someone being bit in my house. It’s just part of what to expect.

By now, you are probably wondering why I’m talking about bites. In my social media platform I received notification about a company that denied access to a girl and her service dog (http://doggirlpitbull.blogspot.com/2013/09/famed-california-tourist-spot-bans-pit.html#). The girl has Autism, the dog is a pit bull. From the sounds of it, they were denied access because of the bully breed. My point is, anything with teeth has the capacity to bite you. It has nothing to do with the organism in specific. It’s just part of the package you have to accept when you decide to be around things with teeth.

Just in case you’re not familiar with service dogs, I’d like to correct a few statements made in the article linked above. By Federal law, service dogs are not required to be “certified” or “registered.”  Some states do require a registration tag for identification, but that is a state requirement for people who reside permanently in that state. Nor are service dogs required to be “vested” or “harnessed” for identification purposes. I’m not required to carry documentation or “paperwork” about my disabilities or my dog. By law, a business owner can ask if my dog is a service dog and does she mitigate a disability. That’s it. See http://www.ada.gov/qasrvc.htm for more specifics. The owner may also ask me to leave if my service dog is acting unruly or disrupting business (although not if her alert is to draw attention to my medical needs).

My service dog is a blue heeler mix. The breed is well-known for their high energy and herding abilities. Most people seem to be familiar with how these dogs nip at ankles to get people to move along. I get many comments about “how can you have a dog like that around children?” The answer is easy – she was trained not to nip at ankles.

Before you condemn a breed because of reputation, look who’s holding the leash. I have many friends in the service dog community that rely on bully breeds because of their ability to perform mobility work. These dogs are highly trained and are no more threatening than the person standing next to you. A poorly trained dog, whether it be a chihuahua or a Great Dane, is a poorly trained dog.

As an aside, next time you want to bite someone, remember you just might get a reputation as a vicious individual.

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