Having Warm Fuzzies Until Realizing the Media was just Doing Its Thing

It’s amazing the spin the media can put on everything. At this point, what do you believe? I used to always trust the big news outlets but now the only media I can think of that I trust is Marc Topkin, Tampa Bay Rays beat reporter.

So I’m reading Twitter after a busy morning/early afternoon of baking and cleaning and grooming Jayden. I read a tweet and click the link attached:

@CBSNews Blind N.Y. man allegedly kicked off plane over guide dog; passengers exit in solidarity http://t.co/mPCXpE2enU

Safari opens the link and audio begins to play. The story is about a blind man who was taken off the plane because his guide dog wouldn’t stay beneath the seat. The passengers got upset and left with the man and then boarded a bus to reach their destination. A couple passengers were interviewed and the blind man as well. As the clip is wrapping up, the broadcasters begin applauding the passengers. Tears well in my eyes as my faith in humanity is restored and I retweet .

I walk into my kitchen to put my freshly boiled eggs in the fridge, grinning, hearing my tweet getting retweeted and favorited. I come back to my computer and have a mention from a friend saying the story is quite different from what she’s been seeing. Oh no. Don’t tell me the media got something wrong again and got my spirits up only to have them shot down.

I start my own investigating and find this story and this story and this story and then I just stopped looking.

I had already planned on blogging about this story, sharing my good feelings but explaining that Jayden and I sit in bulkhead so that I don’t have to cram him under a seat but after reading the other stories, my good feelings diminished a bit.

Basically the airline is saying the plane was stuck on the runway for a bit and the guide dog got restless and began “walking up and down the aisle”. I find that laughable. I honestly can’t imagine a blind person just letting his dog leave his side. The flight attendants say the man got belligerent when he was told to keep his dog under the seat. Maybe all that did happen, but would the passengers have stood up for the man if he had acted so badly?

The audio I listened to made it sound like all the passengers got off the flight in solidarity, however the other stories say the flight was cancelled because of the upheaval over the man and his dog. So who’s to say the passengers did stand up for him? Perhaps the ones interviewed had been in a far away part of the plane and not seen the man behaving badly.

I don’t know what to believe about this story and that makes me sad, because it had given me such warm feelings. So media, oh never mind. You’ll never change. You all want to be first so fact checking has gone out the window.

I can still write that Jayden and I fly in bulkhead where there’s more room at my feet. I can’t imagine Jayden fitting under the seat. If fore some reason, this had been me and Jayden would not calm down and settle, I would have calmly tried to work with the airline to come up with a solution. When Jay and I were getting ready to fly to Colorado in May, I was nervous that the only direct flight I could get was through United, and I’ve read so many stories about United and service dogs. I was talking with Carol about it and she pointed out that most likely every single airline has had some sort of incident with a service dog and we never get the whole story. I’m sure some of them are true but I also think that a lot of these kinds of situations can be avoided if we are able to be our own advocate and our dog’s advocate. We also need to know our rights and business’ rights. No, our dogs cannot just walk away from us. My flights went off without a hitch but I’m a planner to the nth degree. Also, when I’m out with Jayden whether I’m sitting on paratransit, in a lobby or on an airplane, his leash is always attached to me. I never let it go. I just hope stories like the one above don’t keep disabled people from flying with their service animals. It’s too bad the twenty-four hour news cycle makes these things seem more common than not.

On a happier note:

Random Happy

This morning I opened this link about designing cities with the blind in mind. I was expecting an article but audio began to play so I sat back to listen. Chris Downey is an architect who went blind right around the time I did. He sure got out of denial faster than I did haha! Anyway, his talk was interesting and funny and I knew it would be my random happy for today.

Chris Downey: Design with the Blind in Mind


Filed under advocacy, guide dogs, in the news, Jayden, NaBloPoMo 2013, twitter me this

7 Responses to Having Warm Fuzzies Until Realizing the Media was just Doing Its Thing

  1. I feel really bad for ruining your good feelings. I was just genuinely surprised at how different the version of the story was in the news article you shared compared to others I had read this morning. And thanks to the media’s ridiculousness it is hard to know what the real story is.
    I would like to give the guy the benefit of the doubt and assume the “warm fuzzies” story was what really happened. But a couple of my Twitter friends who claim to know this guy from them also being associated with the school that trained his dog (GDF) as well as his participation in GDUI, make it sound like he is generally a trouble-maker. Plus, yes, it is difficult for good, responsible handlers like you or I to imagine allowing our dogs to wander up and down the aisle on an airplane. But there very well may be some handlers out there who are actually okay with letting their bored, fidgety dog roam around during the long wait of a delayed flight, despite how inappropriate that may seem to everyone else.
    Regardless of whether or not the guy was rude to the flight attendants who asked him to get his dog under control though, if all of the passengers really did stick up for him and that is why the flight was ultimately canceled, then there probably really is something to the story. This seems especially likely, considering that airlines do not have a perfect track record when it comes to serving their customers with disabilities and their service dogs.
    So, who knows! It may be that there are some truths in both versions. At any rate, I totally agree with you about how frustrating it is that the media cannot be trusted to give an honest, unbiased, and complete story.

    Also, this was totally not the point of your post, and you will probably get other comments that disagree with me, but for what it’s worth, I have never had a problem getting either of my guides under the seat in front of me on a plane. I was skeptical of the idea at first too, in part because I had heard that it can be a bit more of a challenge if you have a really large dog, and partly because, living out here in the middle of nowhere, I have had to travel in some very tiny planes with my guides. But, when I finally tried it, I actually found it to be a much more comfortable way to ride for both of us than Bulkhead seating. Granted, Willow and Jack were/are on the small side, weighing just under 60 pounds. But a lot of programs train their dogs – no matter how big they are – to lay out of the way, under low objects like airplane and bus seats, chairs, benches, etc. So, it is generally not a big deal for a dog to tuck themselves under there and lay comfortably. My guides have both tended to just curl up in a little ball and go to sleep, sometimes with their head sticking out, using my feet as a pillow.

    Anyway, sorry again that I played a part in spoiling your good feelings. I’ll try to make it up to you by retweeting something happier soon. 🙂
    L-Squared recently posted..Yelllow MumsMy Profile

  2. Ro

    Oh it was totally not your fault. I blame the media for reporting something before all the facts came out, especially as sensationally as that news broadcast did. I really hope some facts come out soon because I’m reading even more tweets about this now. One even from Ashely Judd.

    GDB is actually why I pick bulkhead seats. They said they are better. They really do have more room haha. I don’t know, I just feel much less closed in without people right in front of me. Jayden is about 66 pounds. He never goes under anything no matter how hard I try.Well, he goes under the restaurant table but I’m guessing crumbs help.
    Ro recently posted..Having Warm Fuzzies Until Realizing the Media was just Doing Its ThingMy Profile

  3. Blarch this reminds me of that media story I got tangled up in that time with that other woman and her guide dog being “denied access” to a store. No, she left the f-ing dog in the doorway while walking amid boxes without him, getting him stepped on! But there was my name and face in the story with her. What a mess.

    This has been buzzing around the lounge, but I don’t want to say anything. I wasn’t there, I don’t know, media sucks. Bleh.

    I’ve never really had a guide dog-related problem on the plane. One ticket agent wanted to call Trix a “pet in cabin”, another porter dude tried to ram us through an electric revolving door and another agent didn’t want to find her a spot to pee, but that was the closest I had to trouble. Once I got on the plane, all was good. I haven’t flown a crap ton, but I’ve flown a few times, plus taken greyhounds and trains.
    Carin recently posted..Good News: I’ve Finally Seen The Exploding Whale Video. Bad News: Because The Guy Who Blew It Up DiedMy Profile

  4. Ro

    You mention the lounge and the more I think about it, I think someone there recommended bulkhead, not GDB.

    I don’t remember that story about you and the woman in the store. It just astounds me the more I’m learning about how some people are with their guide dogs. Man my world is small haha. My God, I hated even just leaving Jayden with B when I had to get wheeled away for a CT scan. Leaving him at the end of a store aisle? No freaking way!
    Ro recently posted..Having Warm Fuzzies Until Realizing the Media was just Doing Its ThingMy Profile

  5. I blogged about it…I’ll have to root ‘n’ dig. Yeah there are some sloppy folks out there.
    Carin recently posted..In At Least One League, Just Managing To Find The Field Isn’t Good Enough For A Win AnymoreMy Profile

  6. Here’s the story Carin was talking about. All dog handlers certainly aren’t created equal.
    Steve recently posted..In At Least One League, Just Managing To Find The Field Isn’t Good Enough For A Win AnymoreMy Profile

  7. Ro

    Wow, she had been denied access 8 times before? Gee, I wonder why. If I was n’t a responsible handler I’d be denied access 8 times too. I’ve never been denied once. I only know of one person who was denied access and the employee who did it was fired.
    Ro recently posted..Having Warm Fuzzies Until Realizing the Media was just Doing Its ThingMy Profile

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