The Art of Dogs In Urban Community
Why did you create Animal Behavior Arts, Ltd? What do you hope to accomplish?
These questions are appropriate, but the answers are probably broader than what can be answered succinctly in a blog post.
In the past week, the popular media reported about a person who was denied access to a commercial flight with what has been described as an "emotional support peacock." Media outlets have been criticized for the report, but the mass media is just a reflection of happenings within our communities. People are really making these kinds of choices.
Emotional Support Animals (ESA) are not Service Dogs, even when we are discussing domesticated dogs in these roles. For practical purposes, I don't believe that we are truly ready to embrace animals other than dogs in these roles. Much of my position is based on dogs being the popular choice for people thinking to more fully integrate a type of companion animal into a public-facing role. Generally speaking, I believe insufficient attention to animals' behavior is given to dogs in public-facing roles. We don't seem to want to admit that service dogs are:
*Animals - they have a normal expected range of behaviors that we don't all necessarily want to acknowledge. John Q. Public and his cousin, Joanna - do they recognize the value of discrimination in choosing candidate dogs? In our Disneyfied society, how many of us really acknowledge that normal dog behavior includes a propensity - the possibility of displays of aggressive behavior. At Animal Behavior Arts, Limited, we consciously select candidate dogs we believe are not going to engage in the full repertoire of canine behavior, at least not in the context of their work in places of public accommodation.
*Important, but secondary in importance to people. We invite dogs into very human communities. We love people, we love dogs - we don't feel the need to "beat the hierarchy horse," but if it needs to be spelled out, then here it is: people come first. Public safety is vital.
I dream of a change - where the demeanor and comfort of dogs working in public-facing roles are important. Service dogs in places of public accommodation should largely be invisible, save when they are actively assisting their handler.
And, no... I will not be training Assistance Armadillos.
Go with dogs!
Dennis P. Owens
Animal Behavior Arts, Ltd.