Cecil B. DeMille used to say that they called them "starlets" because piglet was already taken. The quote immediately came to mind as I read the news story about a Hollowood starlet's being denied a seat on an airline because she insisted that her toy poodle was actually a "service dog." I don't even want to contemplate just what service the dog was providing.
Service dogs are everywhere--not just dogs for the blind, but dogs that warn you of pending emotional crises, among other things I'm still waiting to hear of a service cat. This will make the news, sooner or later. Someone will lug a cat around because their therapist will have told them that, periodically, they need someone to tell them to fuck off. A cat would be good for that. (Cats are actually angry old women in bad fur coats.)
I am skeptical about most service dogs--I need more information. I am quite sure that I believe in some working dogs. Seeing Eye Dogs are real. Bomb and drug-sniffing dogs are real--I once watched a drug sniffing dog crawl through my truck and accurately locate an unopened half pint of bourbon that I keep in case of snakebite. The dog did not however, locate the small snake that I keep in case of thirst.
But the other kinds of dogs?--I need more proof. As a matter of fact, I have a new rule for testing highly questionable, though popular maladies to see if they are valid: Do they happen to farmers? That's it--it's a very simple rule. Farmers are too busy to put up with most bullshit. If you read about a farmer keeping a dog inside the cab of his tractor to warn him about an impending panic attack--then you can take the trend seriously.
We have all kinds of trendy nonsensical disability fads. A few years ago, I had several students every semester who were adamant that they could only do well on a test if they were allowed to take the test on purple paper. Somewhere, there was a social worker or psychologist who had an entire herd of sheople convinced that they had a real disability. This group was so convincing that the Office of Enforced Uniformity at Enema U sent me directives that failure to comply with this foolishness was a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Despite the fact that I was violating a federal law by not using purple paper--I ignored them. Sure enough, in about a year, the whole fad was proven nonsensical and promptly disappeared. I wonder how much purple paper the schools still have on hand?
If you stay up past midnight, every other channel on television is trying to sell you medical magnets. You can cure everything from seasickness to arthritis with magnetic bracelets, shoes, and belly wraps. This is the twenty-first century version of the chicken bone necklace from the Middle Ages. This nonsense is embarrassing--you couldn't have sold this crap to farmers two hundred years ago.
And whatever happened to people suffering from Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS)? You remember--people who wore surgical masks at the mall because they were so hyperallergic/sensitive to changes in the environment that they could die if someone two counties over broke a bottle of bug spray. Since I never heard of any farmers getting this, I ignored these kooks, too.
I used to have a student who claimed to have severe allergies and suffer from MCS. I was forced to allow her to show a video to the rest of the class the first day of the semester. The little movie showed us how to locate and use her Epipen if she should suddenly collapse from her chair due to an allergic reaction to the environment. And then she handed out pamphlets to everyone in the room advising us that we were forbidden to wear perfume, cologne, smoke a cigarette before class, or handle a wide list of common household products such as all bathroom cleansers on any day we had class with her. I wondered at the time how the agency that issued this warning thought they could enforce this nonsense--As it turned out, they couldn't. That college student was as obnoxious and hateful as any four year-old child that I have had to sit next to on a airplane.
Within a month, she was so hated that ever single student was trying to put that kid in the hospital. The whole classroom stank like a French whorehouse. Just before class started, people who hadn't lit up in years were just outside the building, chain-smoking unfiltered cigarettes. I personally scrubbed that student's desk with everything from ammonia to Formula 409. I won't say we were trying to kill her, but the only place we would have shoved that Epipen was in her eye. And it was all a waste of time--that girl was as healthy as a horse.
I should have known so--that crap never happens to farmers either.