By: Joel Allen
Hello, folks! This month I received a jury summons and found myself with the reality of taking one of my service dogs to the courthouse. I was a little nervous because one time, years ago when I had Zues, I was harassed by a deputy for having a service dog. I don’t like having a disagreement with anyone in authority, but this deputy was being very confrontational that day. I remember him saying, “I will go see what the judge says about this!” Thankfully, the judge informed him that Zues being a SD was allowed into the courtroom, and he seemed to relax toward us afterward. I will never forget the feeling of being put on blast by that deputy though.
So, on Monday morning 24 January 2022, Houston and I approached that same courthouse, and the memory from years ago came back like it was yesterday. But I made sure I was ready, and as we approached the checkpoint to enter the courthouse, I emptied my pockets and prepared Houston to be searched. My boy did very well in this as the searching deputy waved the wand weapon detector over us and looked into Houston’s service dog pouches. He never flinched, and that was his first official search ever done on him. The checkpoint staff seemed impressed with Houston too.
Now, let us talk about ensuring readiness in the event anyone reading this has an SD and is going through a search checkpoint. (NOTE: This can also include airport checkpoints)
-Always know your SD’s limitations
-Make sure all SD pouches have only your medical items
-Ensure your SD is desensitized to noisy crowded areas
-Prepare your SD by practicing having its pouches searched by strangers (preferably) so as to prevent
-If possible before leaving your home and working your SD, take them for a stress-free walk
-On cold days or if the floor is bare, carry a small blanket for your SD’s comfort
-Also, on cold days I will put a sweat shirt on Houston
Houston and I moved to the courtroom next and awaited being called for jury duty. It was entertaining to see some people see this huge Great Dane sitting next to me while I awaited being called. Some people would hesitate about stepping over or around Houston, and I would inform them he would not move and that it was all right. To their surprise he stayed where he was as anyone who needed to step past or over did so. That’s what I always try and instill in my SDs, not to move when someone approaches them.
After all that excitement for Houston, we were finally called by the judge, “You with the service dog, approach the bench, please.” Like a rock star, Houston walked with me to the judge, and after a brief request to be excused from jury duty, we were excused. I had a friend who was on jury duty call me later and express how he disliked me at that moment, and of course I had a good laugh from it. Have fun on jury duty, Jeff G….hahaha!
And with that folks, I hope this article helped and the tips I mentioned above were useful. As always,
should anyone have any questions, please call me. Happy Valentine’s Day! See y’all next month!
By: Joel Allen