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Friday evening, we went to a fish-fry at the church.


To go back a pace or two, it seems the Daughters of the King had a round table meeting that included a discussion about my attending with Monster. We were not well received on Easter Sunday, and I have not been back since then.


In the meeting, it was very clearly stated to everyone present that Monster is my service animal, and as such, it is my legal right to have him with me, anywhere the public is allowed. That means in the sanctuary, the parish hall, the kitchen, the classrooms, the bathrooms, the offices, basically anywhere on the grounds at all. If people are uncomfortable, then they need to deal with their issues themselves. They cannot ask me to remove my dog. They cannot question why I have the dog, they cannot make any "suppositions" with or without what they believe is "informed knowledge," at all to me. People are free to ask me how we are doing as a team, or what kind of service dog he is, but that is it. The rest is to be left alone unless I choose to explain it.


Apparently, our priest was very upset that I, who has been attending this church ever since my father-in-law retired as rector of the other Episcopal church in Tampa, was treated so poorly by those who consider themselves to be "high members of the church family." I'm told she had a good bit to say about pride and judgement in her sermons the past several Sundays.


My mother-in-law, who is a member of the Daughters of the King, was in attendance at that meeting. She called us later in the week to "invite" us to go to the fish fry. Even I have learned, over the past 8 years, when to recognize that my mother-in-law is voluntelling us to do something. We didn't try to decline.


OK, back to Friday evening.


We got there only a little bit early, but I think that was part of my family's plan. Sam's parents seated us at the head table. I chose a back corner, where Mon and I were a little more out of the way, my back wasn't to anyone, and, being left-handed, wasn't going to bump into anyone while eating.


About 10 minutes after we got there and got settled, people started pouring in. Everyone was all smiles and "nice to see you, you're looking really good!" Then they turned their attention to Mon, "Oh hi there, Monster! You're such a pretty boy," and to me, "is he working or can I say hello to him?" I gave Mon the command to be social. He sat up (from laying on the nice cool tiles of the Parish hall floor), and sniffed hands, allowed pets, and gave little licks to extended hands. Once all of the fuss over him was through, I gave him a treat - chicken jerky (his favorite), and Mon happily laid back down.


Our priest cam out of the kitchen for a few minutes and sat down in a chair at the end of the table. Mon lives Rev. E, so he sat up, tail wagging. She gave him the command to put his paws in her lap and hugged and petted him, getting her face washed by him licking her. Then she gave him the command to get off of her lap. I taught them to her when we were all over at my Sam's parent's house for their anniversary dinner. I think she did it to make a point, but I didn't care. Monster was being well received, which is all that mattered.


He did get a little antsy, so I took him for a walk all over the church grounds. Mon seems to be developing his prey instinct. He's taken notice of birds and likes to try to flush htem out of bushes and trees. That is the Lab in his mix. So, after chasing a few blue jays out of their perches, we were ready to go back in. Mon was thirsty, so I filled his water dish, while he lapped water from the bottle as I poured it. Everyone was amazed that a dog could "drink from a bottle." I told them it wasn't something I taught him. He did it instictually, which is true. Now everyone thinks Mon is just the smartest and best behaved dog around. Fine by me. It keeps them from complaining about him.


We got home around 8:00 in the evening. Sam really wanted to go out and do something, but I had a terrible headache, and felt about as tired as I did just coming out of hospital. I told him to call a friend and have a good time. I was going to bed. By 8:30 I was asleep, and slept until about a quarter of 11, the next morning.


Saturday was spent napping on and off, literally all day long, and I ended up in bed for the night at about 8:30 again. I slept right through until 9 Sunday morning.


We didn't go to service on Sunday, but that was because I really needed to get the things I hadn't, the day before, done. So I worked on the house chores, stopping every several minutes to just sit. I couldn't get over the tired feeling. Sam came home and helped me with laundry. Then, later in the evening, as is our usual routine, we took Mon to the dog park. As is the usual routine, he desparately needed a bath by the time we got home. So into the shower, bathe teh dog, dry him, then clean up the bathroom. After that, I went to bed again.


I'm in the office today, but I just plain feel worn out. I'm having a little trouble seeing straight from time to time too. But I have an optical apointment on Wednesday, and an appointment with Doctor Mike on Friday. I'll make sure they both give me a good once over, just to make sure everything is ok.


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yes you are on the forefront of teaching the public about service dogs. thank you. it is amazing how uninformed people are. You are right this is their problem. But, they are learning. hang in there and continue to broaden their knowledge base.



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Lydia, I could read the stuff you write all day long. What an excelent writer you are. Thank you for all your writings.

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