Dachshund On Guard
Copper, the red-haired hound, has a job to do.
Smartly dressed in a yellow rain jacket, the dachshund huddles next to his master, Ian McArthur, at the Downtown Transit Center. He springs into action whenever he senses that McArthur’s blood sugar is too low.
Service dogs, such as Copper, can detect traces of distinct odors indicating low blood sugar. When he senses something is wrong, Copper pounces on McArthur’s lap, licks his face and refuses to be ignored.
Copper is usually a mellow fellow at 12 years old. Wherever McArthur goes, so goes Copper, including on the bus.
“A lot of times, they don’t even know he’s there. He curls up on the floor and goes to sleep,” said McArthur, a former chef who does volunteer work. Cherriots is McArthur’s primary transportation.
Why he rides
The Americans with Disabilities Act mandates that service animals can ride on public transit to assist people with disabilities. No permit is required for service animals to ride on Cherriots.
Compared to the average family pet, service animals behave with more decorum in public. They refrain from sniffing, barking and jumping on people.
Cherriots Transportation Manager Charlie Clarke said transit operators are trained to not question the presence of a service animal on the bus -- if the animal behaves like a service animal.
Transit operators, Clarke said, are trained to ask only one question: “What task is this animal trained to provide?” If it’s deemed necessary, the transit operator can summon a supervisor and security staff and have a misbehaving animal removed from the bus, he said.
But family pets, whose primary service is making sure that table scraps never hit the floor, are still welcome on Cherriots in a pet carrier.
Show some courtesy to those who depend on service animals. Copper has been snapped at more than once by an untrained pet, passed off as a service animal.
“It makes me mad when people say the dog is a service dog and they react to other dogs,” McArthur said.
Most of the complaints Cherriots receives about animals are from the owners of service animals. Nobody wants a yappy impostor to injure their highly trained, and often expensive, service dog.
Cherriots can exclude unruly animals from the Downtown Transit Center. The photo of a small white dog is part of a rogues’ gallery that’s on display in a transit operator’s breakroom.
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