Adventures at the Abilities Conference

Friday Steve and I made a 41/2 hour drive to Atlanta Georgia for the Abilities Conference. We had a good time and learned a lot. I will from time to time write about what I learned while I was there or share what Steve learned as we did separate so we could hit more than one workshop.

Our first morning at the hotel started the day off badly and I hoped it was not going to set the note for the rest of the day. I woke up with low blood sugar. I went down to the mini breakfast bar to get a half cup of juice and a muffin. When I arrived I was told by the attendant that my dog could not be there. I informed her she was a service dog. She went to her manager and I followed her who also informed me pets are not allowed. I continued to inform her Mali is not a pet she is a service dog. Hearing the commotion the general manager came out and I went through the same sentence again but not I started going into detail.

I gave them all the information possible. It was a Friday; and so, I even suggested they call the health inspector. I gave them the number for the ADA to call. My blood sugar was getting lower and lower thus my temper was getting hotter and hotter. I finally told them I was going to have to call the police as they were breaking the law. The GM told me to do what I had to do. I was extremely embraced as twenty people were watching me. I was not yelling or telling them they were ignorant, but I was determined, I turned around and headed to my room as Mali was whining and soon she would grab my arm and make me sit down. I had to get food any kind of food.

Steve and I left the hotel and went to McDonalds, Yuck… I don’t eat at McDonalds… I want to lose weight. When we returned and my head was no clearer, we stopped at the main desk to get the number of the main office, and then went up stairs and call it. In less than five minutes the General manager had an e-mail explaining service dogs to her. OOPS she made a huge mistake!

When we came do we received a personal apology from the GM and the manager and were compted for the night. The best part is we learned the next day they had started training all of their employees, right all the way to employees in laundry about service dogs.

When we first entered the conference there were four to six accessible cars on display. That is one of the reasons Steve and I wanted to go. However you can purchase two houses here in NC for what one of those cars cost brand spanking new. Defiantly not something I am willing to spend money on, but they were fun to explore. As I came around the corner of one and looked into the rear entry out of nowhere a yellow lab suddenly lunged growling and barking at Mali and I. Mali took two steps putting herself in between me and the lab and used her alpha voice I have seen her use with other dogs. Starting in her chest and rumbling like a freight train. She however, did not charge the dog back, in less than two seconds I pulled Mali back around the corner of the car so the dog could not reach her. I had been able to see the dog was not controlled by the person it was a service dog for.

The yellow lab was a service dog for a teen in a raised wheel chair that had no hand control and the lab was attached to her chair. She was there with her parents who were supposed to be in control of the dog but were car shopping. I don’t know what happened after I went around the corner of the car, I do know I did not see them any other time during the conference…they may have been asked to leave.

This encounter with a service dog kind of put a bad taste in Mali’s mouth. Up until that day she had only met one other service dog, a golden doodle that belonged to a woman in our town. Both girls had been very respectful of each other from their down stays while we talks for a half an hour. Now Mali was on alert to every service dog that passed by waiting to see if they too would suddenly turn on us.

By alert I don’t mean she pulled away from me but her eyes would turn in their direction more than I liked and she would raise her tail higher than I liked. I never let her get close to another dog but I went down isles where there were other dogs on purpose after telling the owners what happened to challenge Mali to behave herself. As the day progressed she improved.

I enjoyed the service dog portion of the conference put on by Canine Assistance on Friday and the disaster preparation workshop. I was happy to know Steve and I were well prepared.

We went back to the hotel and had dinner, Mali was settled in for the night and I thought sleeping soundly, when all of a sudden she went across the room, ears forward, and head down to the door. It seems there was a dog at the door sniffing. Steve went to the door and opened it wondering if possibly someone’s dog had escaped and was roaming the hallway. He opened the door just a crack, when he did the dog in the hall burst forward trying to start a fight with Mali. This time she had no qualms about finishing what a dog wanted to start. She was no working and this was our den as she saw it. The owner was right there and the dog was on a leash. (FOOL) He pulled his dog back and went on his way after a quick chat with Steve.

The next morning we ate breakfast at the mini breakfast lounge and Mali was against the wall and half under the table. There dogs went by and she did nothing but watch them from beneath the table. I was finished eating and just about to leave the room, my back was turned when the man from last night and his dog came up behind me just as I turned around. The dog went after Mali again. This time she was in her harness; and so, she was a working girl. She behaved as she did at the conference. She took two steps and blocked the dog in front of me using her alpha freight train growl. I backed her up three yards and Steve helped the man get his dog out of the hotel lobby. His excuse was she only behaves that way on a leash… personally I am not buying that excuse. Dog aggressive is dog aggressive.

In the end... we learned a lot, had a good time at all of the workshops, and have lots of information to share. Mali proved to me once again she is the dog I always knew her to be. On another note, we took a slightly different route home so we could visit a pagan books store on the way home.

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