When You See a Service Dog, Do not Judge the Handler


Today I went hiking with my service dog, Ralph. I take him to the nature preserve because its quiet and it makes me feel like I am in the middle of the woods. I have taken him many times before. I have have had negative comments about Ralph until today. Its not like I do not clean up after him. I have a dog bag dispenser on my camelbak just for our hikes and they have garbage cans.

I am trying to get into shape but going by myself is near impossible without sever anxiety and C-PTSD taking over. This is a way I stay independent without pushing my husband to come with me. I want to respect his boundaries since I grew up with no boundaries.

We started off our hike as normal. Ralph stayed by me. It was cool out with a strong breeze. It was perfect. There were plenty of birds and fireflies flying around us.

I did not break a sweat until we reached the tower. This was a major accomplishment for me! I was really happy about that. We took a five minute break at the tower. I was not running out of  breath, which was amazing, but my calf muscles were burning a bit.

After our five minutes, we headed back. Watching and taking photos of the wildlife. We were taking our time, as usual.

There are two bridges back to the parking lot. On the second bridge, I saw two elderly ladies so i put Ralph into a sit so they could pass us. They then stopped and said to me,”Are you training him? You do not look disabled.” I was shocked by what I heard. No one has ever said this to me before. I normally have a smart ass response but I did not this time.

To these ladies that I saw at Wellington Nature Refuge:

I am autistic and have C-PTSD. I have a hard time going on long hikes without anyone else with me. Ralph is a way for me to stay independent. I may not look disabled on the outside but so do many other people. You do not to have a physical limitation in order to need a service dog. I have every right to bring Ralph with me as any other service dog does. Do not pass judgement as you do not know my story.

Thanks, Aviva


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