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EDITORIAL: Working for a reason

Mike Rude and his service dog, Spark. Rude says he was recently told he couldn’t be in the Valley Mall in Corner Brook with Spark.
Mike Rude and his service dog, Spark. Rude says he was recently told he couldn’t be in the Valley Mall in Corner Brook with Spark. - Diane Crocker

Pets are amazing. Pets are great companions, they’re fun to be around, they bring comfort, joy and fulfillment to their owners almost without fail. They are company on a lonely day, a pick-me-upper on during a sad time and they fill an otherwise empty home.

As if that wasn’t enough, pets can also be so much more.

Friday’s story on retired soldier Mike Rude and how he and his service dog were received at a local shopping mall is an eye-opener. It details to many that these dogs are needed for many reasons, well beyond just those people with visual impairments, as we are used to seeing.

It also gives the public a sense of the importance of dogs and the well-being they create beyond the joys of companionship.

It also shows there is still plenty of education needed on how these dogs and their human partners should be treated.

Here is a broad but accurate start: If you see an animal with a vest saying “working dog” please treat that animal as you would an extension of the person accompanying the dog. Treat the animal as you would the person’s clothes, or even his or her limbs — it is as simple as that.

Just as you wouldn’t insist on asking a man to remove his pants before entering a public place, in nearly every single instance you can think of, there shouldn’t be a need to remove the dog.

Today is day when we acknowledge the contributions of those who fought in wars for our freedom and remember those who died doing the same. Most of the public will never know what it’s like to have served our country in that way, much the same as most of the public will never know what it’s like to have witnessed a war first-hand, or deal with the aftermath of those times.

Let’s spend even a minute today paying our respects to those people. Let’s apologize to those who we never showed the respect we should have.

And let’s mark tomorrow with a new understanding of what it’s like to live in shoes we’ll never travel.

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