Selective Hearing

Whenever Keen and I are out and about, we are pretty much on parade. I hate extra attention and when Keen and I were still in the training process, I couldn’t make it for very long. Eight months later, I have developed selective hearing. 

A lot of service dog handlers have developed it. My friend J, who is a veteran, hasn’t quite perfected it. He gets very angry and red in the face when someone begins pointing and saying, “That’s a service dog!” I have developed this special skill very quickly because it is the only reason I am able to make it through the grocery store.

I do hear everybody, but I shove it in the back of my mind. Often times, I will be standing in line and someone asks me a question. I don’t hear and the person with me points it out that they asked me a question. I hate going out with someone. They usually want to be polite and answer the strangers question. I often play the, “Oh. She must be deaf” card, but I can’t when the person I’m with won’t play along with me.

But, my mom usually accompanies me places. The most common thing people ask me is, “Are you training him?” My answer? “No. He is mine.” I often get bothered by this question and wonder why they always assume that. I recently discovered the reason from a very… Blunt person.

The reason they assume I am training the dog is because I do not appear to need the dog. Now that question bothers me. People expect you to be in a wheelchair, blind, or deaf when you have a service dog. The whole “Not all illnesses are visible” thing usually doesn’t bother me, because I have never had a situation like that occur. I now know I have that kind of misunderstanding every day. 

When I was on my service dog patch frenzy, I came across a lot of patches that said “Not all illnesses are visible.” I never got one because I didn’t think it needed it. Now I think that I’m going to get a shirt that says it… I think people MIGHT read it then. 


4 thoughts on “Selective Hearing

  1. It’s funny, a friend of mine mentioned that so few people read her service dog’s patch. It expressly says “Don’t Pet Me, I’m Working”. Still people ask to pet her dog and want to talk about it. I can only imagine how that’s going to be for me. It’s why I’m terrified to get a PSD. Another person I talked to said she appreciated it when parents told children “That’s a service dog. When you see that vest, it means it’s working,” because it helps to educate, but I can’t imagine doing that with as an adult. I try to act like they’re not there, but it’s hard. It has me half out of my mind in terror because I know my disability will suddenly become incredibly visible the moment I have a companion at my side.

    Your story has kept me inspired though. I’m glad you’re writing. Hopefully you’ll reach others who need to hear this, people who are afraid to get the help they need because it will make them more visible. Hopefully someone will read your story and learn how to be respectful. Thank you for sharing it with the world.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Abigail says:

      Thank you that means a lot to me. I too thought that I wouldn’t be able to stand up to people and tell them no to petting my dog, but as he and I worked together I became more… Confident.

      I was so appalled by the things people would do to my service dog. I had a gentleman pet him on the head in passing and other people start calling him over to them and making kissing noises. The only way for me to get that to stop was to tell them.


      • I think part of it is all the service dogs that aren’t real service dogs. It’s hard to respect a service dog when you see one that doesn’t have the manners to be in public and is completely not attentive to their partner. I think people see that and forget how legitimate it actually is for the people who really need it.

        Liked by 1 person

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