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Caroline's Passport Story

A story about Caroline and her Hearing Dog Swiss

A Dog Guide Cinderella Story

"Hi...I'm Caroline and I do have a story to share with you. It is about me and my hearing dog Swiss."

December 31st. in the morning, my mom and I went to the downtown Toronto passport office to get me a new passport because I was going down to Florida for a month to spring train with the Ontario Sprint Kayak Team.

As soon as we got into the line a lady looked at us and was puzzled and quickly called over the security guard who immediately told us that no dogs were allowed.

My mom told him that it was a dog guide for me. She also pointed to my dog and said, "see she's wearing the Dog Guides of Canada jacket, we also have an ID card for her."

He asked if I was blind...she said No, she is hard of hearing and this is her hearing dog. My mom quickly got out the ID card that was tucked in Swiss' jacket and held it out for him to read. He totally ignored it and told us that we would have to leave the premises.

Both of us were absolutely devastated. My mom told him again that we had never been ejected from a building before let alone a government building and he threatened to escort us out.

We left and took Swiss home then came back without her. My dad was fuming and later in the afternoon (Monday) went back to talk to the manager or supervisor of the place with the 'human rights policy' in hand. They apologized and said they would do more education on the matter and asked what they could do now. My dad told them a letter of apology is the least they could do. She also had a talk with the security guard and since we have received a letter of apology addressed to both myself and my mom which we copied to the Dog Guides so that they have it in their files.

What we really wanted to do is have people more aware of all the dog guides there are.

My mom told me to be prepared because it will probably happen again, hopefully 'not' at another government office.

Thanks for reading my story.


Just a quick note about service dogs...

Service, or working dogs, like Caroline's Hearing Ear Dog, have the same rights as Seeing Eye Dogs. They can travel and enter public places with their owners. When working, the dog must wear a vest to identify that he or she is a service dog. A photo ID is usually required as well.

If you ever encounter a service dog that is wearing a vest, it is best not to reach out to pet the dog since he or she is 'working'. The dog has been trained to respond as a service dog when wearing the vest. If the vest is off, then it is OK to ask the dog's owner if you may pet the dog.

As more service dogs enter into the lives of people with special needs, we will be seeing them more often. There is still a lot that the public must learn about these dogs and how to act around them. In many cases, like Caroline's, the owner of the dog is the one who advocates on their own behalf to stand up for their rights which, in this case, included use of a service dog in a government building.

Thanks, Caroline, for sharing your story!

Also Read: A Dog Guide Cinderella Story