Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Charlie and I Went and Saw "Unknown"

Because of mine and Paul's jobs we don't get to go on dates in the evenings or on the weekends so today he took the morning off and I didn't have teach until 2:30 and we went an saw the movie Unknown.  Think Bourne Identity meets TakenUnknown stars Liam Neeson, January Jones and Diane Kruger.

I really liked the movie.  There were a lot of twists and turns in the movie and I was captivated the whole time.  Plus, I really like Liam Neeson he is a fabulous actor.

I am also pretty sure that Charlie enjoyed the movie too.  He just laid in my lap wrapped in his blanket.  I am always amazed how good Charlie is when we go out in public.  I always think the loud noises in movies will freak him out, but they never do.  When he was little and in training we took him to go see Star Wars and when Darth Vader came on the screen Charlie jumped up and barked really loudly at the screen.  That was his only movie outburst.  I guess he could just feel his dark side or something.

So if you are thinking of going to a movie this weekend I would highly recommend Unknown, especially if you are lover of intense movies.  I also saw Just Go With It last Saturday. Charlie was my date for this movie.  It was cute.  I am not sure if it is worth the expensive date night ticket price, but I do think it is worth seeing.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Denied Pre-Board by United Airlines

Last Sunday, February 13, I was flying from LAX to Dulles on United Airlines.  Because I travel with a service dog I have to check in at the ticket counter to show identification of the dog.  While waiting in line, the next available ticket lady took one look at me with my dog Charlie and said "Ma'am who is standing behind you?" I had no idea who they were, but she said "I will help you next" speaking to the people behind me.  Obviously she wasn't interested in helping me. I was standing in line, but for some reason I was bypassed.  I am not sure what her reason was.

When I was at the gate to board the plane the same woman was serving as the ramp agent.  My boarding ticket said boarding group 4, but in all my years of traveling with Charlie I have been allowed to pre-board.  Actually, most airlines inform when I check-in that I can pre-board so that I have more time to get adjusted in my seat and not feel rushed down the aisle.  When the ramp agent said that they were boarding first class passengers and those with special needs I got in line.  When I got up to the front and asked if she has asked for special needs passengers she took one look at me and said "You aren't in a wheelchair" and made me stand off to the side. I kindly asked her if I could please preboard because travelling with a service dog is a bit stressful and I take longer to get down the aisle and she just waved me off and said she would preboard in a minute.  I am pretty sure that when they say passengers with special needs that is the call for preboard and I am also fairly confident that I fall under that category.

She continued to call up boarding groups 1 and 2.  I stood where she told me to stand feeling like a fool off to the side as an example of the disabled girl who didn't understand directions. It was humiliating.  I kept asking her if I could board and she kept waiving me off. Finally, another ramp agent walked passed me and I kindly asked if this flight would be preboarding. She informed me that preboarding has already taken place. I asked her if I could preboard eventhough my ticket said boarding group 4 and she said of course.  So I headed down the ramp. 

By the time I got on the plane it will very packed.  Some passengers boarding accidentally stepped on Charlie, which could have been avoided if I was allowed to board early.  As I was boarding the plane I was greated by a flight attendent.  I explained to her that I was unhappy with the ramp agent and told her what had happened, and instead of her being helpful or apologetic she gave me a fake plastic smile and said "oh no compassion?" I felt so stupid and frustrated. As I navigated my way to my seat I held up the line of other passengers for quite a while while I walked down the aisle, put my luggage away, and got my service dog situated.  By the time I was sitting down I was in tears. 

Thanks United for discriminating against a person with a disability and singling them out in front of a group of people.  It really helped me feel more like a freak than I already feel most of the time.  I don't know why this woman choose to single me out that day and make my life more difficult, but it was truly unfortunate.  Maybe she doesn't have to let me preboard, but I wasn't asking for much and I obviously needed assistance. My ticket was even marked as needing assistance.

I guess my advice to those traveling with a disability is to choose a different airline. I have had great customer service with Delta and Jet Blue. 

Here are a couple of interesting articles about how United Airlines has been accused of discriminating against those with disabilities.  Has anyone else had a problem? Please share.

Employee Disability Discrimination and United had to pay out $600,000

Here is a story about US Airlines telling a man he could not fly due to his disability

Friday, February 18, 2011

Flying with a Service Dog- Airport Potty Stations

I love flying out of Dulles Airport in Washington DC because they have 2 service dog potty stations right in the terminals. The one Charlie used was by gate D1 (between gate D and C) and I believe there is another one between gates A and B.

This potty station really helps out when we have a long flight ahead of us. Recently we went to Anaheim to go to Disneyland and the flight was 5 1/2 hours so it was great to potty Charlie right before we boarded the plane. I wish more airports would design a room like this for those traveling with a service dog.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Sign Petition

Doctor's Service Dog Taken Away by Canine Companions for Independence

(Pic:) - CEO of Canine Companions for Independence Corey Hudson. Mr. Hudson is also the North America President of Assistants Dogs International. Mr. Hudson ordered the wrongful repossession of a service dog from Dr. Gael Yonnet.

Salt Lake City, Utah - Dr. Gael Yonnet was severely injured in a snow boarding accident that left him paralyzed. Dr. Yonnet sought the independence that a service dog could give him and he applied for a service dog with Canine Companions for Independence. He was partnered with Elon.

Dr. Yonnet is a very active individual and he enjoys going on trails in the Rocky Mountains with Elon after long days working in a hospital.

Dr. Yonnet's service dog was taken from him a week ago by Canine Companions for Independence because Elon was not on a leash in examine rooms or on trails in the Rockies. All the time Elon stayed by Dr. Yonnet's side.

Corey Hudson nor has any person from Canine Companions for Independence returned phone calls to Dr. Yonnet or his thousands of supporters. Dr. Yonnet wants Elon back working for him.

To sign the petition to return Elon to Dr. Yonnet click the link below:
Return Elon to his Home with Gael

On Facebook
Return Service Dog "Elon" to Dr. Yonnet

Return Service Dog "Elon" to Dr. Yonnet

New Update on February 25, 2011
Dr. Yonnet was denied the return of his dog Elon.  Click HERE to read the article and  letter sent to Yonnet, from CCI.  After reading this letter I can see reasons why CCI would be concerned about Elon.  I am not a fan of shock collars to get dogs to obey.  Additionally,  in the letter is says that...

Despite my conclusion that CCI staff had good reason to seek the return of Elon, based on statements in your written appeal indicating that you were willing to work with CCI staff to address CCI’s concerns and make the placement of Elon successful, I decided that it would be helpful to meet with you so I could determine personally whether there was a way to make the placement successful. On Friday February 18, 2011 I called you in the morning to offer to meet directly with you here in Santa Rosa at the CCI Campus with me and the CCI managers responsible for Elon. I suggested we could utilize a facilitator to attempt to understand each other’s position on the issue of managing your working relationship with Elon. I further offered to have CCI pay your travel expense and stay at the Schulz Campus dormitory. In that conversation, you declined to meet with me or anyone from CCI saying that you had told a CCI staff member that you would create a “public relations nightmare” for CCI and that now you were going to continue to do just that. Similarly, you said you would “destroy CCI” and that you would “bury CCI.” You further stated that you had no respect or trust for CCI’s staff and that you had told a CCI staff person you would bring a “reign of terror” to CCI.

This is a very unfortunate situation.  I am a big believer in mediation and believe that it may have been a way to help resolve this situation.  Dr. Yonnet I am sorry for your loss.  Don't stop fighting.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Service Dog Taken Away

I don't know what I would do if this happened to me. Thank goodness Charlie was trained through an organization that helped me train Charlie verses just placing Charlie with me and granting me "custody" not "ownership" of him.

Read this story and watch this video. It made me cry.

CCI give Yonnet his dog back.  If it means keeping his dog on a leash Yonnet says he will adhere to your rules.  This just breaks my heart.  Dr. Yonnet my heart goes out to you right now.

Video Courtesy of