Ahhh, words. They can be almost as fun to play with as dogs — and that’s just the beginning of what words and dogs have in common.
Words, like dogs, can be used to befriend, repel or attack, depending on the person behind them. Both can inform us, frustrate us, console, entertain and enthrall us. Words, like dogs, can bite or soothe. Both need to be used responsibly.
And, given we humans created both of them, it is up to us to safeguard them and, once in a while, stand up for them — as in, for example, when they are being abused.
Generally, both words and dogs are at their best when they are unrestrained.
And yet sometimes they need to be restrained.
And yet too much restraint can make them dull and lifeless, sucking out all their natural spirit and joy.
It’s not this week’s presidential debate that’s sending me off on this wordy tangent. It’s the word “facility,” and the growing use of the term “facility dog.”
In a post last week, I lauded the University of Southern California’s decision to add a “facility dog” to the staff of its student health center — but I poked a little fun at the term.
“Facility dog” is a cold, undescriptive and institutional-sounding label, in my view, that just doesn’t go with the goldendoodle’s playful given name, Professor Beauregard Tirebiter.
Beauregard is trained as a therapy dog. Calling him a “facility dog” — no matter the reason behind it — disguises that fact. Words are supposed to clarify, not obfuscate.
I don’t like the idea of labeling a dog based on the building in which he works, as opposed to the noble work he is doing.
But, most of all, I just don’t like the word “facility.”
USC didn’t come up with the term “facility dog;” it is being used increasingly to describe a dog — generally a therapy dog — that is based in a particular hospital, nursing home, school, prison, mental institution or other … well, facility.
But it’s also, in its vagueness, a safe word — the kind bureaucracies like, not just for their political correctness, but because it lets them avoid plain talk, clarity and specificity.
“While his credential is ‘Facility Dog,’ the University of Southern California has given him the title ‘Wellness Dog’ as his intended purpose is to enhance the wellness of students on campus.
“He does not work in a therapy/counseling setting, but rather as a staff member in the Office for Wellness and Health Promotion. As such, he is not a pet and does not violate the USC policy referenced in the article.”
(I pointed out in my post that USC has a no-pets policy, only to suggest that maybe it’s time — given all dogs do for us, given “wellness” should be achieved campus-wide as opposed to just at the Student Health Center, given all dogs, in a way, are “wellness dogs” — to give those antiquated rules another look.)
I almost hate to say it, but I’m not too keen on “wellness dog,” either. It, too, is vague and touchy-feely and fails to describe the work Beau is doing.
But it’s a little better than “facility dog.”
“Facility dog” makes it sound like Beau is manning the boilers. “Wellness dog” makes it sound like he’s dispensing medication, taking blood pressure and giving nutritional advice.
Google the term “wellness dog” now and you get links mostly to the dog food that uses that name, or pet insurance companies only to happy to provide your dog a “wellness plan.”
But “wellness dog” will surely join the ranks of terms used to describe dogs that are trained to help us humans cope.
There are already enough of those terms to thoroughly confuse the public —
service dogs, assistance dogs, therapy dogs, emotional support dogs, comfort dogs, bomb-sniffing dogs and seizure dogs — and my personal favorite “companion animal.”
“Companion animal” is what we used to call a pet. As in:
“Hi, I’m John and this is my dog, Bowser. Do you mind if we use the facilities?”
“You are welcome here, just make sure your companion animal uses the fecal matter containment system.”
“You mean a poop bag?”
“We try not to use that term.”
The surplus of terminology for dogs who help us is first and foremost a reflection of just how incredibly much dogs help us — with disabilities, with illnesses that range from diabetes to epilepsy to PTSD, and with all the other obstacles, fears and anxieties that get in our way.
Those distinctions become important because different dogs, depending on their label, have different rights.
A service animal is entitled to accompany that person anywhere members of the public are allowed.
Emotional support dogs, comfort dogs and therapy dogs are not service animals under Title II and Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
“Assistance dog” is a catch all term to describe them all, and is not a legal category.
In an ideal world, we wouldn’t need all those distinctions — and any dog that is helping a person cope would be allowed to accompany that human to a restaurant, workplace, etc.
But, in an ideal world, the word “facility” wouldn’t exist, either.
Canine Angels, the outfit that provided Beauregard to the university, says on its website that it trains and provides service dogs, “social dogs” and “facility dogs.”
It defines facility dogs as those that “are placed with teachers and health care/rehabilitation professionals whose clients/students can benefit from the therapeutic qualities that a well-trained dog can offer. These dogs can provide emotional and unconditional support and can be used by their handlers to motivate and reward clients/students. Facility Dogs live with their handlers and are only allowed public access to the specific facility at which their handler is employed.”
Sometimes, those handlers are called … wait for it … facilitators.
I doubt that there is any significant difference between what a therapy dog is trained to do and what a facility dog is trained to do. Similarly, I’d go out on a limb and say a “wellness dog” and a therapy dog likely receive identical training.
Therapy dog is a perfectly fine term, and there’s no need to put a mask on it.
When a university decides it wants to have a writer on campus, allowing him or her to pursue their mission while their brilliance rubs off on the student body, they call him or her “writer-in-residence,” not “facility writer.”
Dogs deserve at least that much respect.
Posted by John Woestendiek September 29th, 2016 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ada, animals, assistance dogs, bureaucracies, clarity, comfort dog, companion animal, definitions, disabilities, distinctions, dogs, dogs and words, emotional support dogs, facility dogs, guide dogs, legal, pets, politically correct, service dogs, terminology, terms, therapy dogs, training, usc, vague, words, words and dogs
When a dog is in pain, the use of the word may be apt.
When it’s not a mercy killing — but an act that takes place because a shelter is overcrowded — calling it euthanasia, as much as that may make it more palatable to the public, is a misnomer.
And it’s definitely not the word to use when a shelter worker takes their neighbor’s dog — without their neighbor’s knowledge — drives it to the shelter and gives it a lethal injection.
An animal welfare employee in Ada, Oklahoma, has has been accused of animal cruelty after allegedly doing just that.
Marteen Silas, a certified animal euthanasia technician for the Pontotoc Animal Welfare Society (PAWS), took her neighbor’s dog — a pure white Siberian Husky named Zeus — because it was chasing her livestock, according to court records.
She then allegedly drove the dog to PAWS and “immediately euthanized it with a schedule II controlled dangerous substance,” KFOR reported.
KFOR obtained a recording of a telephone conversation in which a former PAWS employee, Jim Nowlin, says Silas tells him why she killed the dog.
A voice he claims to be Silas’ is heard explaining the dog was “a punk” who was “chasing our cows, and chasing our horses.”
Two employees told investigators Silas knew the dog was her neighbor’s, and that she told employees to keep the procedure a secret.
PAWS officials said Silas is no longer employed at the shelter.
A Facebook page has since been set up, demanding justice for Zeus.
Posted by John Woestendiek July 31st, 2015 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ada, animal cruelty, animals, charges, chasing, dogs, euthanasia, filed, killing, lethal injection, livestock, Marteen Silas, murder, nuisance, oklahoma, paws, pest, pets, Pontotoc Animal Welfare Society, siberian husky, technician, zeus
A Colorado Springs attorney accused of not allowing a disabled woman and her service dog into his office because he feared his new carpet might be soiled will pay $50,000 as part of a consent decree approved by a federal court today.
A November 2009 complaint accused Patric LeHouillier of violating the Americans with Disabilities act by barring Joan Murnane, a veterinarian with brain and other injuries that affect her balance, from entering his law office because her service dog was with her.
That decision, under the consent decree, will cost him $50,000 — $30,000 for Murnane, $10,000 for her husband and another $10,000 for a civil penalty.
“For almost two decades, the ADA has ensured that individuals with disabilities are guaranteed full and equal access to public accommodations, both large and small,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “The Justice Department is unrelenting in [eradicating] discrimination against people with disabilities and ensuring that owners and operators of public accommodations recognize their obligations to provide equal access.”
The consent decree was approved by Judge Marcia S. Krieger in U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado.
Under its terms, LeHouillier and his firm will be required to adopt an ADA-compliant service animal policy and post the policy in a conspicuous location, post a “Service Animals Welcome” sign, and provide training to staff.
The press release noted that a service animal is any animal individually trained to work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability — and that the classification is not limited to dogs that assist the blind.
It includes, the press release says, dogs who alert individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing to sounds, warn persons about impending seizures or other medical conditions, perform tasks for persons with psychiatric disabilities and provide physical supports for individuals with mobility issues.
More information about the ADA, including how to file an ADA complaint with the Justice Department, is available on the ADA home page at www.ada.gov.
The Justice Department also has a toll-free ADA Information Line (800) 514-0301 or (800) 514-0383 (TTY).
Posted by John Woestendiek March 31st, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ada, american with disabilities act, attorney, carpet, colorado springs, complaint, consent decree, disability, dogs, federal court, fined, joan murnane, lawyer, news, ohmidog!, patric lehouillier, pets, physical, psychiatric, service animals, service dog, veterinarian
The sun will come out tomorrow — at least it did for Macy.
Macy was a scruffy little mutt, picked up as a stray and taken to Pontotoc County Animal Welfare Society in Ada, Oklahoma — a facility that generally holds dogs for three days before “deciding their future.”
(Meaning, especially in times of shelter overcrowding, whether they are going to have one.)
Macy, though unadopted and unclaimed, managed to stay there for several months, but as time passed her chances were growing dimmer.
She caught a break when she was chosen for a prison dog program called New Leash on Life at the CCA-Davis Correctional Facility in Holdenville, Okla. But it turned out to be a temporary reprieve.
“Unfortunately, despite being a model student, Macy was the only dog at the end of the program scheduled to return to a kill shelter instead of an adoptive home or no-kill rescue,” according to RockySpot Rescue in Newcastle.
Macy’s future was looking pretty bleak again when, after her time in the prison program, RockySpot rescue took her in. RockySpot put a photo of Macy on its website, in hopes of finding her a home.
Another three months had passed when her picture was spotted by Bill Berloni, who trains animals for Broadway shows.
Berloni flew in from New York to look at her, and he liked what he saw.
Macy will be performing on Broadway, playing the role of Sandy in the musical “Annie.”
The moral of the story? Every time an orphaned dog is “euthanized,” a potential happy ending bites the dust.
(Photo: RockySpot Rescue)
Posted by John Woestendiek January 21st, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ada, animals, annie, bill berloni, broadway, dog, dogs, happy ending, homeless, macy, mutt, new leash on life, newcastle, oklahoma, orphan, orphaned, performing, pets, pontotoc county, prison, program, rescue, rocky spot rescue, rockyspot rescue, sandy, shelter, stray
Topping the list is Point Isabel Dog Park in Richmond, California, recognized for its scenery, wide range of free activities, swimming holes and on-site cafe — all set on 23 leash-free acres.
Here’s the rest of the top five.
2. Dog Wood Dog Park in Jacksonville, Florida offers 25 acres of fenced play area, swimming, Frisbee fields, a sand pile for digging, and park-provided toys. There are designated areas for small dogs. Dues runs $289 annually, though day passes are available.
3. Jackson’s Howabaloo Dog Park in Edinboro, Pennsylvania features swimming and hiking, a play area just for special needs dogs. Dues runs $269 annually, but monthly and daily passes are available.
4. Fort Woof in Fort Worth, Texas has free admission, special events and the added benefit of being open after the sun goes down. The park is well-lit and stays open until 11:30 p.m.
5. Shaggy Pines Dog Park in Ada, Michigan has jogging and hiking trails, a swimming pond and play areas for different sized dogs. There’s also a coffee bar and lounge. Membership starts at $256 per year.
Rounding out the list are Bea Arthur Dog Park in Norfolk, Va.; Tompkins Square Dog Run in New York City; Ossining Dog Park in Westchester, N.Y.; Rocky Top Dog Park in Kingston, N.J.; and Happy Tails Dog Park in Plantation, Fla.
For the dog park list, Petside.com says it took into consideration amenities, activities, hours of operation, and cost of entry.
(Photo of Jimmy at Point Isabel Dog Park, by Michael V., via Yelp.com)
Posted by John Woestendiek October 5th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: acres, ada, admission, amenities, america, bea arthur dog park, best, california, dog, dog parks, dog wood dog park, dogs, edinboro, fort woof, fort worth, happy tails dog park, jackson's howlabaloo, list, michigan, ossining dog park, parks, petside.com, point isabel, richmond, rocky top dog park, shaggy pines dog park, swimming, texas, tompkins square dog run, top, top ten, u.s.
Dog Fancy magazine has released its annual list of America’s Best Dog Parks — and the winner is … Freedom Bark Park in Lowell, Indiana.
“It’s never easy to create a dog park, but particularly in a small community that doesn’t even allow leashed dogs in regular parks,” explains Dog Fancy Editor Susan Chaney. “The way dog lovers pulled together in Lowell impressed us. Also factoring into our decision were the digging areas so dogs can do what they love to do and the environmental efforts of the Freedom Bark Park Committee.”
Every year, Dog Fancy asks its readers to submit nominations for America’s best dog park. Parks must have fencing, double gates and free clean-up bags to be considered. Parks are then judged based on a list of standards including: water for dogs and their people, shade, lights, parking availability and accessibility, support organizations and special events, among others.
The rest of the top ten were:
- Dog Wood Dog Park, Jacksonville, Fla.
- Howard and Erna Soldan Dog Park, Lansing, Mich.
- Cheyenne Park Off-Leash Area, Ely, Iowa
- Jackson’s Howlabaloo Dog Park, Edinboro, Pa.
- Happy Tails Dog Park, Dunedin, Fla.
- Shaggy Pines Dog Park, Ada, Mich.
- Ossining Dog Park, Ossining, N.Y.
- Dogwood Park at Victor Ashe Park, Knoxville, Tenn.
- Millie Bush Bark Park, Houston, Texas.
Posted by John Woestendiek April 24th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ada, america, best, cheyenne park off-leash area, dog fancy, dog parks, dog wood dog park, dogwood park, dunedin, edinboro, ely, freedom bark park, happy tails dog park, houston, howard and erna soldan dog park, indiana, jackson's howlabaloo dog park, jacksonville, knoxville, lansing, leash law, list, lowell, magazine, millie bush bark park, nation, ossining, ossining dog park, shaggy pines dog park, top ten, u.s., unleashed