SOFTENING OF AMERICA: ‘Service Dogs’ Needed for … WHAT??

Greetings, Clashers. Today’s communique is two-pronged: Dogs and the loss of American grit.

First, I bet I’m not alone in noticing an increase in the number of stores allowing dogs inside their premises. The Humane Society says pet ownership has more than tripled since the 1970s so while an increase in the number of dogs we see out and about would make sense, why are dogs being allowed in stores?

Don’t misunderstand, my family and I are dog lovers. Our two-year-old yellow lab Ruby (officially, Princess Rubeus Susanna Cummings de Belmont) is a great part of our lives. But we treat her like the dog she is because…she’s a dog. She’s not human, and doesn’t deserve equal status or privilege. So she doesn’t go everywhere we go, has to lay in her designated spot when we eat dinner, and sleeps in her locked cage at night. She is well cared for, and loved tremendously.

Dogs are great but I don’t believe this trend of never separating from them is a positive thing. Aside from Petsmart and Petco, which cater to dogs among other pets, other major retail stores allowing dogs throughout their stores include Home Depot, Lowes, Barnes and Noble, Pottery Barn, Macy’s, and Bass Pro Shops. Aside from the biological leftovers we will inevitably see in the aisles, are dog fights, attacks on humans, and other accidents not a concern for these organizations? The liability alone should prevent these open rules.

On to the second prong. If on the whole you think the United States is a country full of tough and rugged individuals, I have bad news.

My family and I went to a local frozen yogurt place the other night. As we entered, I held the door for a woman I assumed was in her mid-sixties and who appeared to be with her two adult children. Accompanying them was a gray toy poodle wearing a colored vest indicating it was some type of service dog. As we sat down, Mrs. Cummings and I noticed the dog vest said “Emotional Support Dog.”

I don’t know this woman’s situation. Perhaps she has an acute form of agoraphobia and this particular evening out was her first in decades. Whatever the cause of her need to have a support dog, I’m sure it’s not pleasant. However, I suspect she doesn’t need a support dog due to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder associated with military service. This is where I take issue.

I mean this sincerely: If you are a veteran and have seen or experienced direct or indirect events related to the perils and darkness of war, you do whatever you need to do – including getting an emotional support dog, cat, ferret, whatever – to return to and remain functional in society. We owe you this, and much more. I once had a vet tell me about a man in Iraq who had each arm and leg tied to a separate motorcycle by “insurgents.” The monsters gunned it in separate directions. Anyone who witnessed this indescribable event or even the aftermath would require counseling to so much as get out the front door. In cases remotely similar to this, get that dog.

But if you’re not a veteran and your legitimate issue can be dealt with via some type of counseling or therapy, does society have to accept your pets everywhere you go because you’re not feeling perfect that day? If your issue is not truly legitimate as to need a support animal, knock it off.

Included among the “disabilities” at the National Service Animal Registry are Dyslexia, Speech Problems, and Social Phobia.

Dyslexia? How much coddling do people need?

It’s so easy to qualify for an emotional support pet, it’s not unlike getting a medical marijuana license. Just say you’re in pain, and you’re good to go.

Too many in our society are getting softer, friends, and we need to man these people up.


About the author: Michael Cummings

Michael A. Cummings has a Bachelors in Business Management from St. John's University in Collegeville, MN, and a Masters in Rhetoric & Composition from Northern Arizona University. He has worked as a department store Loss Prevention Officer, bank auditor, textbook store manager, Chinese food delivery man, and technology salesman. Cummings wrote position pieces for the 2010 Trevor Drown for US Senate (AR) and 2012 Joe Coors for Congress (CO) campaigns.

View all articles by Michael Cummings

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