Clerk gets les­son in pri­vacy from owner of a ser­vice dog

The Day - - DAYBREAK -

DEAR ABBY: Yes­ter­day I was in a re­tail store with my ser­vice dog. The clerk asked me what kind of ser­vice dog she was and I replied, "She's my ser­vice dog." She kept press­ing me as to ex­actly why I have one, so I asked her if she was in­quir­ing about my dis­abil­ity. When she said, "Yes," I po­litely in­formed her that fed­eral HIPAA laws pro­tect my right to pri­vacy. She then said — loud enough for ev­ery­one in the store to hear -"I don't know what the big deal is. I just want to know what the dog does for you."

Please let your read­ers know how to be around a per­son and their ser­vice an­i­mal:

1. You do NOT have the right to ask about the per­son's dis­abil­ity. To do so is rude. Most peo­ple pre­fer strangers not know their med­i­cal con­di­tion. The dog may be for PTSD, a hear­ing or see­ing dog, or to alert the per­son to a med­i­cal emer­gency.

2. Chil­dren (and adults) need to un­der­stand that when ser­vice an­i­mals' jack­ets go on, the dogs know it's time to go to "work," and they take their job se­ri­ously. At that point, they are not pets and should not be can cover with cloth­ing if she chooses. How­ever, she doesn't cover them of­ten be­cause she likes them and they mean some­thing to her.

Re­cently, I showed my friend a pic­ture of my daugh­ter that showed one of the tat­toos on her up­per arm. My friend said, "Oh, I am so sorry about the tat­too," and pro­ceeded to cover the tat­too with her hand, im­ply­ing that my daugh­ter would be at­trac­tive if it weren't for the body art. I was shocked.

I have al­ways been sup­port­ive of my friend's chil­dren and have never crit­i­cized any of them, even though I haven't agreed with ev­ery­thing they have done. I was so hurt by her com­ment that I was speech­less. I'm not sure I can con­tinue the re­la­tion­ship feel­ing this way. But I'm hes­i­tant to lose a 30-year friend­ship over some­thing I might be overblow­ing. Am I be­ing too sen­si­tive? How do I re­solve this?


DEAR THROWN: For a friend­ship of 30 years to end over one thought­less com­ment would be sad for both of you. Some­times peo­ple say things with­out think­ing, and this is an ex­am­ple. Re­solve your feel­ings by talk­ing to her in per­son and telling her how deeply hurt you were by what she said. It will give her the chance to apol­o­gize and make amends.

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