Saturday, February 12, 2011

Hardy and I went to church today

I am very lucky to have a minister and church congregation who are very accepting and welcoming of Laurel and Hardy. I know this from hearing other people talk about being denied access to church with their service dogs. Many people don't know this but the ADA doesn't cover churches - as long as they are not having an event which is open to the general public, they are exempt. I know people who have had to hunt around to find a church that would welcome their service dogs and I know from personal experience that not all churches have made themselves wheelchair accessible. 
We have a place at the back of the sanctuary that works nicely for my chair and a service dog (there's a spot in the center of the pews as well but sitting there with a dog gets more complicated). Prior to the service, our minister asked if it would be alright for him to introduce Hardy to the congregation - he did and also reminded everyone that although it would be difficult, they should ignore him and  not come up to pet him. Despite that admonition and the fact that I know she knows better, a friend did, in fact, come up during the church service to say hello to him. 
When Laurel first started going to church, she once sighed during the silent prayer and also liked to sing quietly when the rest of the congregation did. Unfortunately, she didn't always end with everyone else. Although I wasn't pleased, the minister and many other members of the congregation assured me it was fine and that they loved having her there. 
Hardy did very well for his first service. He was a bit more restless than he has been at restaurants or other events but, our seat is right by two sanctuary doors and people were constantly going in and out, something that doesn't happen at restaurants, meetings or seminars. After about 15 minutes, he did settle down and only popped up once towards the end of the service when he heard Brent begin to sing a solo from the front of the sanctuary. Hardy was obviously delighted and watched him for the entire song before setting down again. 
As people left after the service, a number of them came to reminiscence about times I'd had Laurel there and to comment on how well Hardy had done for his first time. 
I'm not sure our minister or congregational members know what a wonderful gift the acceptance of my service dogs is to me. Among other things, they have assured me that they enjoy knowing they are there and that I shouldn't be concerned about anything going wrong. Although both Laurel and Hardy have been very good when attending church or going to events there, it is nice to not have to worry about the possibility of people getting upset.

1 comment:

  1. How nice of them to allow them for training. It must be key if you want to train a service dog, they could accompany their people to church (that is , if they would want that).