Sunday, July 09, 2006

Emotional Support Animals, Revisited

ClinkShrink is having Duck issues. She is, I believe, fixated in the duck stage of psychosocial development: aside from the posts, the animated duckies, the living and re-living of the emotional support duck issue, ClinkShrink has shown up at my home with a stuffed duck (honest) and now she's having Ideas of Reference-- perhaps even Paranoia (the Duckie followed me to jail one day??)-- with regard to the Aflac Duck.

Rumination? Obsession? Over-valued idea? Delusion? Time will help define the problem, but in the meantime, let me re-assure you, ClinkShrink is not suffering, she is enjoying, even lingering over the object of her perseveration.

For those who've joined us late, I'm Re-Publishing the original post about Emotional Support Animals inspired by a May, 2006 New York Times article, written a bit less tongue-in-cheek than one might thought. Our lives have not been the same since, now get that Duck into the oven:

[posted by dinah]

In today's New York Times, Beth Landman writes:

The increasing appearance of pets whose owners say they are needed for emotional support in restaurants — as well as on airplanes, in offices and even in health spas — goes back, according to those who train such animals, to a 2003 ruling by the Department of Transportation. It clarified policies regarding disabled passengers on airplanes, stating for the first time that animals used to aid people with emotional ailments like depression or anxiety should be given the same access and privileges as animals helping people with physical disabilities like blindness or deafness.

These days people rely on a veritable Noah's Ark of support animals. Tami McLallen, a spokeswoman for American Airlines, said that although dogs are the most common service animals taken onto planes, the airline has had to accommodate monkeys, miniature horses, cats and even an emotional support duck. "Its owner dressed it up in clothes," she recalled.
There have also been at least two instances (on American and Delta) in which airlines have been presented with emotional support goats.

Wagging the Dog, and a Finger

I'd be indignant, but I can't stop laughing long enough.


MT said...

Indignant? Do you discredit the companionship people derive from pets?

Spiritual Emergency said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

EEK, shows how experienced I am at this blog stuff I left a comment in the wrong place initially. I thought the duck would bring comfort to the massive flooding. Kind of a live cute life preserver. But if Avi can get comfort from a lizard why not a duck?? Hee hee hee

Anonymous said...

Just some thoughts:
Pets are great-- especially mine.

Given that my dog recently urinated on someone's leg at a little league game (fortunately the leg of a parent of an opposing team member), we now leave him home when we dine out.

So, what happens when your service greyhound spends the entire flight chasing my service tabby around the cabin?

And if the service goat flies for free, then my service spouse should fly for free, too.

Roy, I'm gonna need a note.

Anonymous said...

Given a choice between sitting next to a service goat versus a shrieking service baby, I'll take the goat...

Sarebear said...

Those shrieking service babies really get your goat, huh? Hee.

ClinkShrink said...

As puns go, that one was not baa-aa-aaa-d.

Actually, I firmly believe there is no such thing as a bad pun.

Steve & Barb said...

...then you won't mind me pointing out that these service animals...seeing eye goats and goats that permit folks with mental illness cope with and escape from the stresses of everyday life...have been around for thousands of years. Yes, they used to be called escapegoats, but...

Seriously, I had a patient once on a medical floor who had an emotional support dog who was better with this woman than any psychiatrist or two-legged therapist ever could have been. They can be very helpful (thought goats and ducks may be a bit much).

MT said...

There's also that grand patriarchal tradition of the service woman. Isn't it trying enough being Sultan even without the harem? And don't even get me started on the importance of eunuchs.

Sarebear said...

What about those dogs I've heard about, that can detect a seizure coming on in an epileptic patient, and warn them, so they can get in a safer/lower position/posture, or sit/lay on the floor even?

I've seen a story where an epileptic lady in prison trains them.

A patient with a therapy duck has a quack for a doctor (therapist) . . . . hee!

Steve & Barb said...

Good one, Sarebear! Quack.

And Murky, I prefer Max to eunuchs.

ClinkShrink said...


I just got that one, Roy. *nix on more geek puns! As ram-bunctious as I am, even I'm hard-driven to keep up with you.

ClinkShrink said...

Delusional aquatic waterfowl often believe they have a right to formerly undeveloped land. Unfortunately this delusion, folie a duck, is quite treatment resistant. You could try social skills training with a canine therapist.

um yeah said...

A (semi-serious) question I've had about service pets is what do you do when someone else is allergic to or afraid of your animal? I'm absolutely terrified of birds and would not under any circumstances be able to fly on a plane with a duck. What do you do then?

Dinah said...

Saoirse: This, I believe, is a question for the airlines. Perhaps you should take a note from your doctor with you when you fly: "This passenger may not sit near ducks or other avian service animals"... (more evidence that we've all gone mad)

um yeah said...

haha, I bet the airline would deem me not mentally stable enough for air travel.

Dinah said...

I've solved your problem: Travel with a support cat. The cat will eat the support birds and you'll be fine.

Now at Shrink Rap, we don't offer psychiatric/medical suggestions, but tongue-in-cheek, I just couldn't resist! Somehow, I doubt my malpractice policy will cover this is the cat attacks the pilot and the plane crashes.

Dinah said...

Man Sues Over Nude Beach Dog Ban
Claims rat terrier companion should be allowed on Fire Island shore
JULY 13--A New York man who says that he suffers from a debilitating skin condition and post-traumatic stress disorder caused by the September 11 attacks is suing for the right to have his rat terrier accompany him to a naked beach on Fire Island. Mark DelCore, 39, contends that he needs to sunbathe sans clothes because of an "acute skin condition that requires me to be in the sun as often as possible," according to a federal lawsuit filed yesterday by the Queens man. DelCore's complaint, which does not further identify his ailment, notes that since "my skin condition is all over my body I require exposure to the sun all over my body." The lawsuit, a copy of which you'll find below, contends that while Fire Island National Seashore officials will allow seeing eye dogs to accompany beachgoers, service dogs are not allowed on the beach. DelCore states that he suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and that his dog Cheekies "goes everywhere with me and provides me with emotional support and comfort." He adds that the Fire Island National Seashore is "the only place within range of my home that I am legally allowed to sunbathe without any clothes." In a TSG interview, DelCore said that he was in a lower Manhattan gym on the morning of the World Trade Center attack and, when the planes hit, was forced to leave the facility while still wet. After the first tower collapsed, DelCore said that he was covered with a "light dusting" of an unknown substance (which attached to his wet skin) as he ran north from the scene. His resulting condition, which he said does not have a name, led to him going on disability from his job with a New York bank. DelCore, a former bodybuilder who once competed at the Gay Games, acknowledged that his dog has not been certified as a service animal.

Anonymous said...

"The ADA defines a service animal as any guide dog, signal dog, or other animal individually trained to provide assistance to an individual with a disability. If they meet this definition, animals are considered service animals under the ADA regardless of whether they have been licensed or certified by a state or local government."

When my anxiety became debilitating in the sense that I was afraid to go to the grocery store, I never went out with friends, and I sat near the door of the classroom in case I had to make a quick escape, it wasn't long after that I started to see how it was affecting my life. My school work went down the tube, my social life was non existent, and my fear of going to the grocery store led to some very poor nutrition.

That being said,I am very thankful for my service dog. I got her as a rescue and working with a private trainer attained her AKC CGC (a very basic obedience certification).

As quoted above you do not need certification for a service animal and a private trainer, is just as good as an organization.

Right now there are no state or local governments certifying service dogs, that I know of, have heard of or have been able to find. I would be the first person in line to ask for accountability for these animals and identification cards.

Because of my "disability" I transferred schools to be closer to home so that I could receive medical attention, and be close to home if I were to have a panic attack. I however didn't want to live at home, I wanted to live on campus and I naturally wanted my service dog to be with me.

My college has had a total of 4 service dogs on campus, the first 3 were for people who were obviously blind, the fourth, my dog, is the first emotional support animal allowed on campus.

Why was she accepted? What made her different?

The analysis that was given to them from my therapist was her prognosis based on my history for the past two years. I had to have this medical documentation. I sat down in a meeting with one of the woman who worked there and told her exactly how I came to have the dog, why she was good at what she did, and WHAT SHE WAS SPECIFICALLY TRAINED TO DO, to help me.

She has two very important commands, "paws up" and "settle in", paws up is so I can have contact with her, and settle in is so that she'll lay quietly in class, it's her notifier that it's time for work.

This is my second "first weekend" from home, college experience. I feel it's how my first should have been, rather than hiding in my room, showering multiple times a day to hide my shaking, and crying, rather than sleeping for hours on end because my mind has stressed my body so much that I can't keep my eyes open, I'm out making friends, going to boring orientation sessions that last 4 HOURS. Something I would have skipped altogether had it been just a year ago.

The science behind it? I'm not sure. For me I went from taken 15 sedatives a year (for the really desperate times) to taking a dog every where with me and taking 3 sedatives a year.

Right now my dog is my therapy. She is a pet, but vacations do not suit her, she gets antsy, she is 100% the job and I have to let her be that.

However, she is 8 years old, she is a small dog and could live until 16, (I wanted a small dog for convenience when traveling).

My goal and I should put this challenge to everyone with an emotional support animal, is that you shouldn't have the long term goal of replacing that service dog, you should have the long term goal of dealing with your issues, on your own, because there are strategies there to help you, you just need to use them, and put time into them.

Government, to you I say get off your butts and get some federal/state certification going, take the animals out of the shelters and start training them.

I think anyone unwilling to work on alternatives to an emotional support animal is abusing the system. Yes my disability is not the business of anyone else but if I'm to be taken seriously, then I need to come to grips with my issues, and you know what part of that is talking about it. If you can't come to terms with your "disability" then the dog/duck/horse/cow isn't going to do much. And lastly, seriously people why not just dogs? Leave the ducks on the farm.

I choose to remain anonymous because I have been in stores and been told to my face "WELL YOU DON'T LOOK DISABLED." So I rather not deal with ignorance like that. But I will check back for responses.

Nicole, rat terrier training expert said...

Wow! Dogs that can detect a seizure coming on in an epileptic patient, and warn them, so they can get in a safer/lower position/posture, or sit/lay on the floor even are very interesting. I've heard stories like these before and I think they really can detect it.