I love my dog.


A provocative New Year posting from my good colleague Rachel Adam-Smith.

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I love my dog. He’s non-verbal. I love my child, she’s non-verbal.

But why do I find it easier to access places with the dog – shops, cafes, restaurants, hotels, holiday rentals, hydro pools, than I do with my disabled child?

When looking to book a holiday the information on whether the accommodation caters for a dog is accessible, it’s normally on the front page – “dogs allowed or dogs not allowed”. But trying to find whether somewhere is accessible for wheelchairs or for those with mobility problems is incredibly difficult.

In reality, there are few options for accessible places for those with disabilities unlike for dogs – who seem to have lots of choices. Holiday owners seem to put more consideration into access for dogs than they do for human beings with access requirements. Dogs are often catered for in pubs/cafes unlike those with complex eating disorders (neurological conditions or disabilities) when establishments won’t blend their food (health and safety apparently or they don’t have a blender) – it’s often bring your own food or don’t go out.

Those in wheelchairs must wait outside inaccessible buildings for help, push a bell or just sit there in the hope that someone will come to assist. Often, they must wait outside for their family to come back out, unable to access places as a family, while dogs can wander in, with their family, if the establishments allow it. And of course, when you take the dog to the vet, the dog is relying on you to communicate for them, similar to those who are non-verbal who rely on their carer to communicate for them. Dog owners are understood by the vet, trusted that something is wrong.  Whereas carers of disabled children are often not believed when they state their relative is not presenting as they normally do. The dog is seen far quicker and treated with empathy and understanding (I know you have to pay for the vet but still). The dog’s non-verbal, just like many people with learning disabilities but quite often, I find the dog and their owner is treated better. I’ve never felt as though the vet doesn’t believe me when I say somethings wrong with my dog but when I say somethings wrong with my child at a hospital … well, we all know how bad that is for many parent carers of disabled children. Battles we really shouldn’t be having.

Posted 15 January 2023