Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Omnium servitium canibus in tres partes divisa est

According to the federal government, Trooper is a Service Dog.

According to Dogs for the Deaf, he is an Assistance Dog.

Is there a difference?

No, says the federal government. Both kinds of dogs are trained to perform a task, a service, to help a person with a disability. The feds lump all such dogs together as Service Dogs, and declare that their clients have right of entry with them to public places such as restaurants and supermarkets.

Yes, says Assistance Dogs International. As an accreditation organization, it divides all of assistance dogdom into three parts, as Caesar did Gaul: “Guide Dogs for the blind and visually impaired, Hearing Dogs for the deaf and hard of hearing, and Service Dogs for people with disabilities other than those related to vision or hearing.”

Service Dogs for America, an accredited member of Assistance Dogs International, is devoted to that third part, and further divides that into four additional segments: 1. “mobility assistance dogs,” “emergency medical response dogs,” “PTSD dogs,” and “facility dogs.” 

This nomenclature can be confusing. For a while, early in the waiting period for Trooper, I fretted over whether an assistance dog was considered a service dog by the federal government. Then I realized when any dog is trained to do a job for a disabled client, it therefore meets the ADA's definition of a service dog.

So: Trooper is a particular kind of trained assistance dog called a hearing dog, even if the Feds call him a service dog.

I call him a service dog, too, when we're out in public. Ordinary folks think of service dogs rather than assistance dogs, a term few outside the industry have heard. They neither know of or care about such semantic differences.

Clear? I hope so. For now, anyway.

By the way, the title of this blogpost is just my best guess with the help of a Web translator from English to Latin.

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