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People who relate to them (dogs)

People who relate to them (dogs)

Thomas M. Columbus September 07, 2022

Duffie didn’t come from 4 Paws but is a service dog (from Paws with Cause). “A 50-lb. black Lab, Duffie can sit under the seat in front of me on a plane,” said Jana Bennett, who lives with Duffie as well as being UD religious studies chair.

“A 50-lb. black Lab, Duffie can sit under the seat in front of me on a plane.”

Bennett can speak to the deliberate care taken by service dog providers in matching dogs with those they serve. She speaks of an application with lots of questions (“and not just yes-or-no answers”), medical records, background checks, an in-home video assessment and a long wait, often a year.

Then there’s the in-home training, lasting six months.

“The dog had had a year-and-a-half training; it was me being trained,” she said.

Early in the process of getting the dog, Bennett, who has a hearing impairment, went to her ear doctors for a statement of need. She was told by the office manager, “Oh, Honey. They don’t fill out this kind of paperwork. They’re surgeons.”

Doctors saw Bennett as a problem to be operated on, not as a person to be related to.

So she started thinking of relationships, of how all creation is related, and eventually of how her relationship to Duffie is perhaps, she said, “the kind of relationship Pope Francis is talking about in Laudato Si’,” his encyclical subtitled “On Care for Our Common Home.”

The reflections led to Bennett making a presentation, “Service Dogs and Laudato Si’,” to the Society for Christian Ethics. 

Dogs who serve