Church

Richard AtchesonRichard Atcheson Northern USAPosts: 3,570Member
edited 24 November, 2010 in Service & Therapy Dogs
I found a comment in another thread disturbing. What has your experience with churches been? We have always had very positive experience taking the puppies we were socializing to be service dogs to church. I have drawn ''Amens'' with the question ''If the churches aren't going to help you with good works, who are, the taverns?''. When visiting strange churches, we have often, but not always called ahead. I have even taken puppies to large, regional church meeting. We changed churches a few years ago and are now attending a Friends United Meeting church. While looking at new churches, one very important factor was acceptance of the puppy. All the churches we visited were fine. We rejected one church for lack of children. With no children in our home now, we depend on our church for ongoing contact with young children. Friends' meetings follow different forms of worship. Our meeting's service is much like other denominations except for a short period of silence and opportunity to speak. Unfortunately, our puppies sometimes do so. I am not sure what the laws are on dogs in churches. I do think they are exempt from the ADA. However, the Bible is quite clear about ministering to the impaired.

Comments

  • Claire RobisonClaire Robison Oregon CityPosts: 4,926Member
    edited 21 November, 2010
    I don't have a service dog, but when I was a kid in Sunday School, we were visited by service dog puppies several times. All the kids loved it, I don't think any of the parents or teachers were against it. It was a Christian Science church. I would stop going to a church that didn't make me feel welcome for ANY reason, after all you could just read the Bible at home if you wanted to, the point of going to church is the community aspect. (At least to me.)
  • Kipi YehKipi Yeh Posts: 122Member
    edited 21 November, 2010
    I haven't brought Fresca to church yet but I talked to some of the sunday school teachers and the Pastors about it. They usually are wondering what Fesca does that helps me but are very polite and understanding when I don't feel comfortable talking about certain things relating to my disability. Something that I noticed in my church is that most people are very curious but very willing to accept service dogs in our church. We have even had puppies and non service dogs in our church. I think this happens to be because our church is really dog friendly. The only thing that I'm worried about is because we have some infants and toddlers in our church and I want to make sure Fresca knows how to reach if her tail gets pulled or if she's petted the wrong way or if her paw gets stepped on most of their moms are in service and cannot watch their children so I want to make sure that Fresca is 10000% capable of behaving around church members..especially since churchs that do not recieve federal funding are except from ADA.My church has never had a SD in our church so they'll have to adjust to Fresca and I but as long as they welcome both of us as they are doing so far then I have no problem with the church and going with Fresca. I think the problems that you would run into like access problesm are basically the same as the church only that churchs that don't recieve federal funding are not required by ADA to give you access. I agree with what's been said above. THe Bible does mention treating others like brothers and sisters and ministering to everyone I think that includes us SD handlers as well. How you approach your Elders, Deacons and Pastors/ other leaders in your church is important regarding their openness to allowing you and your SD access. I think that if you are asked and can answer their questions about what tasks your SD does for you that they will be willing to let you enter with your SD. For the churchs that don't, I reccommend that you do not attend that particular church because you and your SD are one team and should be accepted as one. It's wrong to seperate a handler and his/her SD for no real reason. This is my opinion and I dunno if anyone else agrees but I hope this helps!
  • J LJ L Posts: 979Member
    edited 21 November, 2010
    My thought is: accomplish your training needs while being sensitive to other people's needs wherever possible. It's one thing to hear a few coughs and rustlings during silent worship, but I can see how people would find it difficult to remain focused if there is recurrent barking (you didn't specify if it's isolated barks or persistent barking/whining). So with that in mind, if the silent portion of the meeting is not very important to you, then you could take the puppy outside for the silent part and then bring him back in for the greet 'n' handshake part until it is old enough to be able to stay quiet during this part of the meeting. If it is important to you to be there for the silent part, then ... do you need to bring the puppy to the service, or could you find some other places to socialize around kids with reasonable convenience (Toys R Us, Petsmart, playgrounds), until it is old enough to keep quiet for extended times?
  • Veronica MorrisVeronica Morris El Cerrito/SF Bay areaPosts: 14,677Member
    edited 22 November, 2010
    I am going to quote from one of my favorite websites: http://www.xenosoft.com/dogears/takeitupstairs.html Take It Upstairs (c) Copyright 2005, Grumpy Ol' Fred Q: Can a disabled person, with a service dog, be denied access to a church? A: Due to the constitutional provision of "separation of church and state", a church CAN deny access. The church has a legal right under federal law to be able to mistreat you. But, in theory, they answer to a higher law than that. As Bea Arthur ("Maude") used to say, "God will get them for that." If the usher denies you access to worship, take it upstairs, and talk to the head usher. If the head usher denies you access to worship, take it upstairs, and talk to the pastor/shaman/priest/rabbi/etc. If the pastor/shaman/priest/rabbi denies you access to worship, take it upstairs, and talk to the committee of elders, etc. who hire them. If the committee of elders denies you access to worship, take it upstairs, and talk to the regional leader of the church. If the regional leader of the church denies you access to worship, take it upstairs, and talk to the national leader of the church. If the national leader of the church denies you access to worship, take it upstairs, and talk to the world leader of the church. If the world leader of the church denies you access to worship, take it upstairs, and talk to your deity. As Bea Arthur ("Maude") used to say, "God will get them for that." But be careful what you say; you don't necessarily want a flood. If your deity denies you access to worship, take it upstairs, and find a better deity. -- (c) 2005, Grumpy Ol' Fred, and Mac ("Come join us at the dog park on Sunday morning, to worship the way doG intended.") As to my own experiences, we've not been to too many churches with a SD, but we've never been denied access. I do think that it is key that churches be treated just like any other public place in that if your dog cannot handle the situation and is disruptive or destructive, you need to not put them in the situation (leave them home) or remove them from the situation if their behavior is not up to par while there.
  • Sarah InmanSarah Inman Posts: 425Member
    edited 22 November, 2010
    My church has said Scruffy cannot come because of Insurance issues. He might bite and other people don't like dogs or are allergic. They do not understand PSD's and compare him to what a guide dog should act like. I found him a month ago and he has picked up on several of my disabilities as well as having great social skills. I have given up my Children's Church class, teaching Sunday School, and quit going to Sunday Service. Any activity that Scruffy is not welcome, I feel as though I am not welcome. After going 4 years to this church I am now feeling unwelcome. My husband and I are now looking for another church. No, I do not need him most of the three and a half hours that I am at church. Try and explain that to my Service Companion who knows his job is to be with me %90 of my day. I'd rather not put him through the stress.
  • Julie SaundersJulie Saunders Posts: 1,322Member
    edited 22 November, 2010
    In the church I grew up with (I've since moved and now I'm in a different congregation) there was a Guide Dog and I believe an Autism SD. Both were always welcome, but usually stayed home during church because that building had three different congregations meeting on a staggered schedule on Sundays and that made the hallways very crowded during passing times (in between the main meeting and Sunday School, etc.). They were adult, fully-trained SDs and never caused a disruption, but I think it was a convenience issue for the owners/handlers who found it easier to just rely on service humans for the three hours or so of church services on Sunday. I think they had a hard time with the little kids in that congregation, too - I'm sure the parents did the best they could, but it's hard to keep track of a pack of four-year-olds with poor impulse control when they all get together. :-/
  • Julie SaundersJulie Saunders Posts: 1,322Member
    edited 22 November, 2010
    They do not understand PSD's and compare him to what a guide dog should act like. Scruffy, can you explain what you mean by this? A PSD may learn different tasks from a guide dog, but they should have the same high level of conduct and training in public IMO.
  • Michele MellemaMichele Mellema Posts: 767Member
    edited 22 November, 2010
    "They do not understand PSD's and compare him to what a guide dog should act like." Umm....my PSD does act like a guide dog or any other type of service dog. They basically should be seen and not heard. Often, my 70lb dog isn't even seen. A SD working properly is basically invisible. Might I recommend reading this link: http://psychdog.org/publicaccess.html (remove any spaces dogster might toss in)
  • Danielle RiversDanielle Rivers Posts: 3,179Member
    edited 22 November, 2010
    We go to one of the Friends churches too. We actually have a handicapped elderly man with a golden retriever service dog. He is the nicest guy and makes sure to let the kids pet his dog and the dog doesn't get distracted at all but does enjoy the extra attention on Sunday mornings. Our church also has had guide dog representatives come and bring their dogs for ministry weeks and the dogs get to go and talk to the kids about what service dogs do. When the church knows a bunch of service dogs are coming in, they put up signs throughout the church to remind people to ask before petting. Our church is pretty service dog friendly which I really like.
  • Sarah InmanSarah Inman Posts: 425Member
    edited 22 November, 2010
    Scruffy is on his utmost behavior always. He never barks, growls etc. But after the lessons all the kids want to play with him. I take his gear off and he instantly changes from you cannot pet me without permission to 6 month old puppy (he is approx. 2 years old). Scruffy as doing what he should is peacefully sleeping until I let the kids play with him. All everyone understands is that there was one man that came a long time ago. He did not let anyone pet or play with the dog (I do however feel as a PSD he can have times to just be a dog and play with the kids) also this guy kept a muzzle on his dog. Which I see no reason to do that with Scruffy. I am having a scrambled brain moment because of time release meds, so if I don't make sense I will explain out more when asked.
  • Sarah InmanSarah Inman Posts: 425Member
    edited 22 November, 2010
    He is seen but not heard. He has a blanket I had trained him to lie on. Where ever we go, he quietly lays until time to go. We go to restaurants, theaters, malls, and other stores like Lowes and Walmart. Last night we saw Harry Potter at the Imax, when we come out folks said they did not even know the dog was in there. He now does it all without even a command.
  • Linden GueLinden Gue Posts: 623Member
    edited 23 November, 2010
    Perhaps the church staff would be more comfortable if you kept Scruffy on duty while you are at church instead of taking him off duty so that the children can play with him. That would be more in keeping with SD etiquette for the public.
  • Veronica MorrisVeronica Morris El Cerrito/SF Bay areaPosts: 14,677Member
    edited 23 November, 2010
    Excellent advice, Iris. My philosophy is when I am in a place that does not allow pet dogs, my dog stays on duty and behaving as described in the PSDS behavior standard linked to before.
  • edited 23 November, 2010
    Our church is wonderful about my dogs, both Maizie & my guide dog. Actually, they're extremely dog-friendly in general... I've brought my pet Dachshunds to Sunday services many times, as have other folks w/their pets. The church I went to many years before this one was also very SD/dog friendly. I personally wouldn't attend a church that was NOT accepting of my DAD & Guide.
  • Sarah InmanSarah Inman Posts: 425Member
    edited 23 November, 2010
    I found out the true reason today they don't want Scruffy there. The older women think all dogs stink and they do not want a dog to come to church. So today I came to Food Ministry (with Scruffy) it is funded through federal money so therefore they have to follow ADA and allow me to have him. The old ladies were like "we still want you to come to church but not your dog". I refuse to go where my dog is not allowed to go. So until my church fixes their problems,which there are more than just my dog going there, My husband and I will be going to a Service Dog friendly church. ~a~ One thing that I am not going to worry about is how will they fill three positions. My Sunday School/ Wednesday Night Children Church and my husband's Sunday School.
  • Richard AtchesonRichard Atcheson Northern USAPosts: 3,570Member
    edited 23 November, 2010
    I am quite pleased with how this thread has gone. First and foremost, I am pleased that so many of you are reporting positive experiences. The churches are accepting you and your dogs. I am also happy the few problems were met by looking for a church with a more loving attitude. It is good that you didn't let one bad experience stop you. I am also happy the way it has mostly stayed on topic. A bit of explanation. Yes, our puppies have done some barking and other problems. Xanthe was a real problem 3 years ago. We got on top of it and mostly squelched her barking. One of the worst distracting incidents was when she barked when the minister thumped his finger on the pulpit, and the congregation roared. It was not his style and took us by surprise. Of course Xanthe wasn't service dog material and never settled down to where the school would place her with anybody. We had found that as long as she had an attractive chew toy, she would be quiet. Well, no dog chewing a Nylabone is quiet. We had to give her Gummibones. She was a powerful chewer and destroyed a large sized Gummibone Dental Ball in a month only being allowed to chew it while out in public. We then discovered the Hercules size Gummibone Rainbow. It was huge. The first one lasted 4 months and the second until she went away to school. As puppy raisers, we are perpetually low on the learning curve. Yes, we have had 21 puppies and on going training for 20 years. However, each puppy is different, and constantly changing. At 4 months, Delilah is a sweetheart, but she seems to need 2 bowel movement after a meal. She eats the first thing in the morning and again about 6 PM. 2 weeks ago, we fed her and left for a dinner meeting. Before going in the restaurant, I walked her around outside until she had a bowel movement. After the meeting, I carried her out. We then stopped by Lowes. Before going in, I walked her around again until she urinated. Thinking she was done, I took her in and she quickly had another bowel movement. Of course, I was prepared to clean it up. None of our other puppies did that. Since then, I have been taking her out and walking her if we are in somewhere more than an hour. It is much easier with a mature dog when you have had the same one for a long time.
  • Michele EnensteinMichele Enenstein EurekaPosts: 1,247Member
    edited 24 November, 2010
    Several years a few members of my synagogue brought their dogs to study group. This was Mordy'd pre-SD days and I brought him at times. He loved going. Then someone objected and the board voted to allow SDs only. Once Mordy became a SD, I let them know that he would be attending in that capacity. A year's battle ensued where the board denied that they had made that ruling (though I did find it in the past minutes, good secretary!) and took that year to do research, get feedback from the congregation, do research on SDs and make my life miserable. I considered going to another synagogue but it was not a thriving community, in another city (I have no car) and the rabbi had some past issues with young women (supposedly). I went there a couple times and Mordy was welcome and Max would be now. The rabbi supported me quietly. Her sister is severely disabled (Dystonia), is a dog lover, a PhD, president of the Society for Disability Studies and my #1 supporter. The board (of which I was a member of at that time) was against me. After a while I was fed up so I resigned from the board and did tons of research, both religious and secular, for my cause. That was a stressful year. I became disabled, got married, graduated with my first degree and didn't feel welcome at the synagogue I had been going to for 6 years. Service dogs are now allowed at my synagogue. I know who has allergies or fears and take care to avoid them.
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