Joaquin Juatai is a disabled veteran and an author of the book PTSDog: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and the Service Dog. He also hosts The Service Dog Show with PTSDog, which is broadcast on WDVR. He educates, supports, and advocates for other veterans who have chosen to use a service dog as part of their own recovery, which has effectively turned his disability into a mission.
Joaquin talks about the process of getting a service dog and stresses the importance of continuously training your service dog, no matter what condition they are assisting with. He also goes into the rights that service dog handlers have and some of the misconceptions that business owners and the general public have with regards to service dogs.
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Scott DeLuzio: 00:00 Hey everybody, this is the Drive On Podcast where we talk about issues affecting veterans after they get out of the military. I'm your host, Scott DeLuzio. And now let's get on with the show.
Scott DeLuzio: 00:15 Thanks for tuning in to the Drive On Podcast. Before we get started, I want to take a quick minute to ask a favor from you. The point of this podcast is to help veterans through sharing stories like the one we're about to hear. It's not really going to help if no one hears the story. So, if you wouldn't mind, hit pause for a second and head on over to DriveOnPodcasts.com/subscribe where you can find links to subscribe and to review the show on your favorite podcast app. And if you don't mind taking a minute to share the podcast on social media or even directly to a friend who you think might benefit by listening to the podcast, I'd really appreciate it. Okay. So today my guest is Joaquin Juatai. He is a disabled veteran and author of the book PTSDog, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and the Service Dog. He also hosts the service dog show with PTSDog, which is broadcast on a WDVR. He educates, supports and advocates for other veterans who have chosen to use a service dog as part of their own recovery, which has effectively turned his disability into a mission. So, Joaquin, thank you so much for joining me. Why don't you go ahead and tell us a little bit about yourself, a little bit about your military background and things that you're getting into.
Joaquin Juatai: 01:34 Oh, it's my pleasure to be here. Thank you for having me. I was in the United States Navy for 15 years and I had some experiences during my service that I didn't know had affected me. That was my final sea tour, three years on an aircraft carrier, got home and went to shore duty and things were not right. Things were different. My life was falling apart. I didn't understand what was happening. I was drinking excessively, over-exercising and tearing my body apart to try and deal with what was going on in my head without understanding what was going on with my head. I had an accident which broke one of the vertebrae in my back and crushed several disks and that effectively ended my Navy career.
Joaquin Juatai: 02:39 When I broke my back and was unable to go run for 10 or 15 miles a day, all of a sudden, this stuff that was going on in my head caught up. Ultimately, ending me up inpatient in a mental health hospital in a wing dedicated for service members where I was diagnosed with PTSD and I jumped through all the hoops for the Navy at the time, at the VA, I did all the classes, I went to all the different counseling, and I took all the pills. And when I say all the pills, I was taking more than 30 different pills, 11 different prescriptions a day. During that time, they did process me for a medical discharge, under honorable conditions.
Joaquin Juatai: 03:30 I remember waking up one morning, to start my daily routine, which was take my pills, lay in bed and stare at the ceiling for eight hours before I took my pills and went to sleep. And that was my life. I literally did nothing between the pain and recovering from back surgery and all the zombie cocktail of medication that the VA had me on for PTSD, I had no life. I was a zombie. I just existed for my next dose of pills. And I remember laying there staring at the ceiling thinking there really has to be more, there has to be more life than this. And my wife at the time suggested that I get a service dog. We just so happened to have recently started breeding Alaskan Malamutes. So, we decided that one of the puppies from our first litter would be my service dog.
Joaquin Juatai: 04:33 At this point in time, I really didn't know what that meant. I didn't understand the laws, didn't understand what was necessary to train him. I was completely clueless. So, I said, “sure, why not.” I have to do something and anything's better than this. Skater was born, literally fit in the palm of my hand when he was born. He weighed exactly one pound 16 ounces. He had to be born via C-section. So, I wasn't there when he was born because it was at the vets. However, I got to hold him in my hand about three hours later. And I knew in that instant that that was my dog. That's not normal. That's how it worked for me. And that was almost nine years ago. I never looked back. I started learning about the laws, started learning.
Joaquin Juatai: 05:28 I knew how to train dogs. I grew up in Alaska. I mushed Alaska Malamutes when I was in high school, I did dog sledding. So, I wasn't completely clueless about training a dog to be a good dog but I didn't understand things about them being a service dog. Somewhere about a year or more, about nine or ten months of age for Skater, I decided that they weren't helping me and I did probably one of the stupidest, most dangerous things I could have done. I quit all the VA drugs cold turkey and I was very, very sick for quite a few months. That was the dumbest thing I could've done. What I should have done is gone and talked to my doctors and said, “this isn't working. I need your help to wean off of these.” However, I didn't and it nearly killed me.
Joaquin Juatai: 06:24 At the same time as I was so sick and withdrawing from the side effects of all these drugs, I was working training Skater and reading and learning about service dogs. I started to discover that first of all, since he had been born, I had a reason to get up in the morning other than taking drugs. I had potty trained my puppy; I'd take care of my puppy, had to feed the dog. I had to take him and walk him. I had to do some training with him. And so, slowly building on his training and my experience with him and my knowledge, I started training him to perform tasks, to assist me with my disability. And by the time he was three years old, we were working in doing public access and he was really starting to shine.
Joaquin Juatai: 07:22 I would say for the past five or six years solid, he really has not left my side. I went from a reclusive zombie to published author, radio show host, different veteran’s groups and productions, radio shows and things reach out to me for my advice, for my opinion for my self-taught expertise on the subject. I don't claim to be an expert but other people call me an expert. What I discovered during the process when I was training Skater and learning about service dogs and everything is that there was no one place, there was no one book. I'm the kind of person, if I'm going to do something, let me pick up the book and read about it and learn as much as I can about it.
Joaquin Juatai: 08:26 Well, that wasn't there. It didn't exist. And it just so happens that I was a journalist as my career in the Navy. So, I had the training to do the research, put together a book, interview people, get their experiences in there and write it. So, three years ago, I decided that's what I'm going to do. Just a little bit more, three years ago, actually. In July of 2016, I started the PTSDog Project.
Scott DeLuzio: 09:07 That's a great background on who you are and how you got to where you are and everything. I'd love to talk to you more about the process of getting your dog trained to be a service dog. Is it typical that people would do the training on their own or is it one of those things where a lot of times people will get a service dog that has already been trained by some sort of trainer, that's kind of a big black box, to me? I'm not sure how that whole process typically works.
Joaquin Juatai: 09:46 There are three ways to get a “service dog.” The Americans with Disabilities Act is the law that protects the right of disabled people to train and use a service dog to assist with their disability. In that law, it specifically states that disabled people have the right, it is a right, it is not a privilege. The law doesn't grant this. It protects the right of a disabled person to train their own service dog. So, method number one is to find a dog that has the appropriate temperament and train it. If you have the knowledge, if you have the skill, if you have the patience and the ability, you are well within your rights to train your dog to be a service dog. Specifically, when we're talking about a PTSD service dog, as long as you understand how to train your dog, in my opinion and it's personal experience, this is the absolute best way to do it.
Joaquin Juatai: 10:54 The reason for that is because everything that Skater does for me is based on the bond that we formed from birth on up. The way you bond with your dog is training your dog. And so, as he was growing up, he was seeing my PTSD symptoms exhibit and he started forming natural responses to those symptoms and I was able to take his natural response and shape that through training into a nameable task in order to fulfill the requirements of the law, which is that a service dog must be trained to perform work or tasks to assist their disabled handler with their disability. The second method, if you don't have the experience, again as you might remember, I used to mush dogs when I was a kid. I have been around dogs my whole life. Been around Malamutes quite a bit of my life.
Joaquin Juatai: 11:54 So, I knew what I was doing in regards to training the dog. The second method is almost as good as doing it yourself. I call it Cooperative Training. Cooperative training is where you use a trainer or an organization that provides trainers to help you train with your dog? A perfect example of this is Tad Saw train a dog, save a warrior. They specialize in training veterans and their personal dogs. They will screen the dog and make sure that it's got a suitable temperament to be a service dog. Meaning it's not reactive to other dogs. It's not aggressive, it's not fearful. And then they will go through the veteran and the dog together. We'll go through training classes with a trainer. And what they're really literally doing is training the veteran to train their own dog. The goal is by the time you graduate the Tad Saw program, you should be able to turn around and train another team, learn one, do one, teach one remember that concept from the Army.
Joaquin Juatai: 13:06 That's a really great idea. That is fantastic. It requires something that I learned by doing it myself. It requires a lot of sweat equity. And that's, I think the number one lesson from both self-training and from cooperative training that you get exactly what you put into your dog, out of your dog. So, if you don't put the time and the effort and the consistency into training your dog, you don't get a dog that's able to perform with consistency and is calm and is confident. Which leads to the third method. Yes, there are organizations out there who provide “fully trained service dogs” specifically. There are a lot of organizations that train PTSD service dogs.
Joaquin Juatai: 14:02 And here's where I've found through talking with thousands of veterans through the PTSDog where I've found that there's some issues with that. First of all, when I was raising Skater and training him, he was exposed to me in full PTSD mode and he learned what was going on with me. And he picked up on that and started responding. When my stress level started to increase, you know, and adrenaline started dumping into my system. You know, he started to respond to that. Dogs can smell the chemical changes that happen in our bodies. They can hear our heart rate increased that you know, but dog senses are much more highly attuned than ours and they can sense physiological changes that reflect what's going on psychologically in our brains, right? Well a stranger can't train any dog to recognize what's going on physiologically when I'm having a psychological meltdown.
Joaquin Juatai: 15:05 A third party can't do that. So, you have third party trained dogs exist and there is a time and a place for them. Look at a mobility assistance dog that does things like pick up your keys and fetch your shoes and opens the fridge and opens doors for you. That's very specific, very time consuming and you have to be very knowledgeable to do that training. That's absolutely a time and a place where having somebody else trains the dog and then teaches you how to handle the dog is absolutely appropriate. PTSD. The whole point in my mind of a PTSD service dog is to be proactive. I have not had a full-on PTSD meltdown. Actually, I had the first one three or four weeks ago. The first one I had in about three years because Skater intervenes before things get there and he couldn't do that
Joaquin Juatai: 16:00 if some stranger trained him.
Scott DeLuzio: What are some of the things that the dogs will do for someone who's having a PTSD episode to deescalate that if that's even the right term.
Joaquin Juatai: Well, every person is different. Every disability exhibits differently for every person. People with PTSD do have some commonalities, common symptomology. We have panic attacks, anxiety, rage fits, hypervigilance. Essentially the fight or flight response is always right there ready to go. Just there's no filter anymore. You're wired tight, ready to rock, and you go one of two ways. You're either ready to fight or you're ready to run always. So that was one of the problems I had was hypervigilance, extreme hypervigilance. I couldn't go shopping. I would make it 10 or 15 feet into the store, turn around and leave and go sit in my truck and make my wife do it.
Joaquin Juatai: 17:08 I couldn't do it. It was too difficult trying to watch everything going on in the environment I had absolutely no control over. So, what I taught my dog to do is watch the environment and warn me when there are things that might be potentially hazardous. I lived in Pueblo, Colorado and we had a very bad methamphetamine problem in Pueblo at the time back in the early 2010s and Skater picked up on the fact that tweakers, I was immediately ready to throw down because you could not predict what these people were going to do and then they're just potentially dangerous because of the drugs around. And so, if I saw a tweaker in a grocery aisle, I'd go around; Skeeter picked up on that and he would start to warn me.
Joaquin Juatai: 18:16 So, one of the things that he does for me that helps alleviate the hypervigilance is he's my forward observer. He always walks, he does not work at a picture per perfect heel. I didn't train him. I did train him to walk at a heel, but what I trained him to do is be two or three feet ahead of me. So, he's a hundred-pound dog. He's a big dog. So, we're still basically joined at the hip, just actual hip to hip. So, his nose is out there. He is seeing what's going on in front of me. He looks around the corner of an aisle before I do. And if it's crowded, he'll look back at me and he'll either nudge the cart or me in the opposite direction or he'll sit, which warns me, “Hey, it's crowded down there. We might want to go around and come back to that aisle.”
Joaquin Juatai: 19:05 So then I'm not packed into a crowded aisle trying to watch my back. Right. And so, I'm not overreacting, so I'm calmer. So that takes me from that fight or flight response ready to go. It takes it down a notch, takes it down. And another thing he does for me is watch my six standing in line. People crowd you in line and this is a fairly typical PTSD response. People with PTSD can’t handle being packed in a line like that. I have a hundred-pound Malamute as a service dog. He posts up right behind me at 90 degrees. Nobody approaches my back with a hundred-pound dog that looks like a Wolf behind me. Now listen, remember when I said the ADA requires that the dog perform a task to assist with my disability, it also says that I can't perform the task myself.
Joaquin Juatai: 20:01 So, creating a physical buffer to keep other people away from me in a packed line in the grocery store, there are two ways I can do it run, which means I can't shop or shove them, which is a felony. It's called assault. But if there's a hundred-pound dog sitting there, problem solved. So, people say, oh blocking, that's not a task. Actually, it absolutely is. It fully fulfills the definition as required by the law. I can't do it myself. Not without breaking the law, but if there's a hundred-pound dog that looks like a Wolf standing behind me, nobody approaches me. So, PTSD service dogs like Skater does nightmare intervention. I started having a nightmare. He comes and gets on the bed and performs another task. Deep pressure therapy. He'll lay on me, at least halfway on my body, on my core.
Joaquin Juatai: 20:58 And that pressure provides a release of endorphins, a release of dopamine and it calms; this has been medically proven. That's why weighted blankets work for people, thunder shirts for dogs, same concept. I trained him to alert me when I was starting to get mad when I was, when I was starting to get, for lack of a better term, triggered. I don't do triggered. I talk about stressors and here's why. What happens when a trigger gets pulled? The downrange gets destroyed, the results are inevitable, right? So, I taught my dog to help me handle stressors so that the trigger didn't get pulled. I try not to get to that point. That word has been so abused politically. It's been co-opted and that's a shame because it really minimalizes mental health issues and that bothers me.
Joaquin Juatai: 22:07 I hate the word because of how it's been co-opted. So, what I did is I taught Skater to warn me when my levels are getting higher, when my stress is starting to come up, I'm starting to dump those stress hormones. Adrenaline starting to creep in there. So, level one and he naturally would respond. He picked that up on his own and started coming over to me when I was getting there. And here again, back to owner training or cooperative training. A little light went on in my head and I went, “Oh Hey, I did a little self-evaluation. What's going on? Why is he coming over here and noes to me? Oh, I'm starting to get stressed out, man.” So, when I realized that's what he was doing, I took that natural alert, and trained it into a task.
Joaquin Juatai: 22:54 He sits on my foot. So, level one, when I'm starting to get where I don't want to go, Skater sits on my foot. That's warning level one. Dad, chill. Got it. You'd need to calm down. Level two, if I keep escalating, he escalates. He starts leaning against me, trying to push me away from the stressor. Tries to get me out of that situation. Level three has only happened three times. He turns around, rears up, puts his paws on my shoulders, knocks me flat on my back and lays on me full length until I'm calm enough to leave. Because what happens when a hundred-pound dog is lying on you full length in the middle of a Walmart, you have no choice but to pet the dog because he will not get up. He knows you’re about to do something wrong. He would not get up.
Joaquin Juatai: 23:46 He will not get up until I am calm enough so I have to pet him because he's lying on me full length. It's human nature. If a hundred-pound dog is laying on you full, you pet the dog. Right? That has been scientifically proven to produce calming effect, releases endorphin. It lowers the stress hormone levels and it calms you. And that's an extreme case. I mean that's when things are going way too much at that point when he's lying on me in the middle of a store. Without him, I would have been laying somebody else out. Fists would have been flying or I would have been at a dead run trying to escape and things don't get that way anymore.
Scott DeLuzio: 24:37 That's interesting. And it's awesome to hear how the dogs can be trained and how receptive they are to the chemical changes and all that stuff. My wife about a little over a year ago now started having seizures for the first time ever and in her life. And we have an English bulldog who at the time was like 10 years old, so she had never been trained for any service dog type of thing like that. But when my wife got back home from the hospital, she'd start to have seizures at home and our dog started to pick up on some of the cues that she would have and she would come and sit by her side before my wife was even experiencing any of the symptoms.
Scott DeLuzio: 25:24 And then within like a minute or two later, whatever the time period was, she would start to feel the seizures were coming on. And we started noticing that the dog was instinctively going to her right before the seizures were going to happen. And it was every single time, like clockwork, that she had a seizure. The dog was going right to her. That was with no training and I'm not trying to claim that she's a service dog or anything like that either. It just goes to speak to the ability of dogs to be able to do.
Joaquin Juatai: 25:57 That's a natural alert. And again, you know, family dog been around its whole life, bonded to the family. No, something's wrong with mom. And that's a natural alert. And when you find a dog that has that ability that is able to pick up naturally, that's the ideal because you take that natural alert and you use it to train that dog to do something specific. So, if you want the dog to sit to warn you every time it happens, then you start rewarding. Good job, good job. You warned me as you're taking your rescue meds, if you have that option or whatever, you know. The only way to figure that is if the dog is with you. Sure. If there's somebody else training the dog, that whole part of the equation doesn't exist.
Joaquin Juatai: 26:52 And specifically for things like seizures, things like PTSD, anxiety alert, heart rate, diabetes. Diabetes is a little different because you can actually take the spit of a diabetic and freeze it and send it to a training organization and with the smell of their breath the dog can be taught at different sugar levels. When you smelled this, do this, that's a little bit different, but it's much easier to do it at home. But with the dog right there with you, sure. Putting cotton balls in your mouth when your sugars down to 30 and then, freezing them and mailing when your sugars down that low, you're not thinking about that. And that's just the process of training your service dog, especially PTSD service dog forces, a couple of things to happen.
Joaquin Juatai: 27:45 It forces you to be introspective. You have to think about what's happening, why is it happening and how do I want my dog to warn me so that I can do something different? Okay. And one of the biggest ways, especially in places like public, that a PTSD service dog works is redirection. And I'm not talking about redirecting the dog's attention. I'm talking about where the handler's attention goes. Instead of, Oh my God, it's crowded. It's loud. Walmart, perfect example. It's crowded, it's loud. You can't control the environment. You don't know what's around the next corner. You know, all of these things are high anxiety, high energy, get that fight or flight ready to go, okay? But if you're focusing on making sure your dog's on point, giving your dog commands to tell your dog where you're going to go, cause guess what? Dogs can't read our minds.
Joaquin Juatai: 28:42 So, you know, tell your dog, Hey, we're going right, we're going left. I use sled dog commands, hot and G, slow down, let's go forward, straight ahead. Handling, an active verb, handling your dog, it becomes your job. I don't go to the grocery store to buy groceries. I go to the grocery store to train and handle my dog. And that's another thing that both owner training and cooperative training understand and acknowledges that training never ends. There is no such thing as a fully trained service dog. It doesn't exist because a dog is a living being and if you don't maintain training by training, they lose that training. Just like just like we did in the military. If you didn't practice, if you didn't go to the range, if you didn't X, do exercises, if you didn't practice doing your job in the Navy, it was firefighting. If you didn't do that, you lost the skills. Why do we train all the time? Train, train, train, or we're spending so much time training while you need that training when you're deployed, right? But if you don't have the training, you don't know what's happening when you're deployed. That's exactly right.
Scott DeLuzio: 30:03 All of those skills are perishable. If you don't use it, you lose it.
Joaquin Juatai: 30:08 And it's the exact same with the dog. So here I am, I'm this veteran, I've got the PTSD and I'm going to get this fully trained service dog and after six months or a year, the dog's not doing what it's supposed to be doing. But they said it was fully trained. What they didn’t do was train the veteran. They didn't give the veteran the tools that the veteran needed to maintain that level of behavior and performing of tasks. Because the whole premise behind a third-party organization training a service dog is that nobody else knows how to train a dog. All right? Guess what? Anybody can train a dog. Anybody is capable of it as long as they want to do a little bit of learning and be consistent and patient and work with the dog. Anybody has the capability if they make up their minds to do it.
Scott DeLuzio: 31:10 That's great advice because some people might just shy away from the idea of getting a service dog because they might think it's too expensive to have a full dedicated trainer to do all of this stuff and they just would never be able to get it done for a reasonable cost. And I'm not trying to say that it's inexpensive to train the dog on your own because there's things that you need to learn and things like that. I'm not trying to say that but on the flip side where you have somebody else who's doing the training for you that I've heard from other people that could run into the tens of thousands of dollars and that could be lots of money and most people don’t have that just laying around.
Joaquin Juatai: 31:56 There are organizations who claim that it takes, now remember we're talking about nonprofits here, so ideally there should be no quid pro quo for the vet. Ideally, we provide the organization and we provide the dog to you free of charge. That is the ideal. There are very few organizations where that's actually true, right? Some of the organizations want a dog and pony show and they have a very specific visual type of veteran that they assist. They all look pretty much the same and there's lots of pictures of them and they show up at events with their dog and they're put through this media ringer, a dog and pony show. Let me tell you something, if you're at the point in your life like I was where all I did was live to take my pills and stare at the ceiling, there's no way I could have gone out and performed for such and such organization.
Joaquin Juatai: 33:02 The PTSD was running me too much. So, think about that. If they expect you to go out and doing song and dance, dance a jig, some of these organizations require that the veterans do fundraising. Again, dog and pony show. You have to go out there and raise $25,000 in order to get the dog. That's quid pro quo. That's not the way nonprofit is supposed to work. It verges right on the line of not being legal. Some of these organizations, the ones that I refer veterans to, the cooperative training organizations require sweat equity. It's the same as training your dog yourself. They require that you come to class, go to class, and when you go home, keep practicing, right? You'd better be practicing; practice for half an hour with your dog, twice a day, every day until next week's class, two classes a week.
Joaquin Juatai: 34:05 That's a little easier because you have more guidance from the trainer. But a lot of people drop out of these cooperative programs when they realize it's actually work. But guess what? Handling your service dog is actually work. No matter who trains it. At the end of the day, when you're walking down the street with the leash in your hand, if you don't know what you're doing, you're in trouble.
Scott DeLuzio: Let's talk a little bit about your book that you have. So, the book, PTSDog Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and the Service Dog. What's the book all about?
Joaquin Juatai: Well, like I said, as I was beginning, what I now call my PTSD journey, I didn't understand anything about the laws. I didn't understand what a service dog was, what it could do. I had to discover all of that for lack of a better term, the hard way.
Joaquin Juatai: 35:02 I happened to be one of those thick-headed knuckleheads who learns best if they do it the hard way. And I learned some hard lessons and at one point, just being told by some bottled blonde soccer mom looking woman in a grocery store, “you can't bring that dog in here.” “Well, yeah, I can. He's my service dog.” “Well, he's not wearing the vest.” And I realized, wait a minute, there's a problem here. First of all, there are a lot of veterans who are walking around with dogs in harnesses and vests and all these fancy leashes and they don't understand what their rights are and they don't understand the law. And at the same time, on the other side of that coin, there are a lot of people out there, businesses that have no clue what my rights as a disabled person are.
Joaquin Juatai: 35:58 And so I started researching, there's got to be a book or something that explains all this. There wasn't, there was not a book, there was not one. I went to the ADA website, did all the research, pulled up all the documentation, read titles, two and three of the ADA found all the appropriate sections. But that took me a lot of time. That was research that took the training that I got both in college and in the Navy, that took using skills that not a lot of people have. I thought to myself, look, Johnny veteran on the street who just spent nine years in the Marine Corps isn't going to necessarily even understand that these are the questions he's going to need to ask or answer. That's just it where there's 99.9% of the population of the United States doesn't even understand what a service dog is.
Joaquin Juatai: 36:59 They just really don't. There's no one place with no agenda where you can find that information except for the Americans with disabilities act website. If you're prepared to sit down for hundreds of hours and read through the US federal register and US code. And let me tell you, my eyes crossed so many times as I was researching and reading through this stuff. So, I thought, well, what did I do in the Navy? I was a journalist for 15 years. I was journalist when I was in college. I was doing radio writing for the paper. I was a journalist in high school, I wrote for the high school paper, I took photos, what am I doing with my life right now with that training? I've got all this experience and training.
Joaquin Juatai: 37:52 What am I doing with it? Nothing. Well, why not? Here's the need. There is no one place to find all this information. Here's my ability. Here's my audience, my brothers and sisters in arms, veterans who should know this, especially if they're holding onto a leash. So, I wrote the book and what the book PTSDog is, is an explanation of the ADA and of PTSD service dogs specifically, but it's applicable to any service dog in regards to the law, how they help and how the law works. For service dog handlers and for businesses through the eyes of veterans who use service dogs. So, for instance, I tell the story of a restaurant refusing to allow a veteran access in a veteran's words. And then I explain the law, what's applicable and how possible way to readdress that issue
Joaquin Juatai: 38:59 and educate the business. One veteran who I interviewed was literally chased off of a bus in Cleveland, Ohio and harassed face to face, chest thumping and the whole nine yards by the bus driver because of his service dog. This is incredibly illegal. What happened? He took it to court and got a settlement from the city of Cincinnati. That story's in there. And the process he went through to report it and what laws were broken. I break it down, use the veterans’ stories so that it's relatable. And when you read it, you understand that little light goes on, “Oh, well, yeah, I get it. I understand what that means now” rather than reading the cold legal language on the ADA website and trying to slog through the law.
Joaquin Juatai: 39:58 Everything I say about the law, I referenced where in the law it says it. If you want to look it up, it's in a footnote. Go right there and look up what I am saying. I don't make any claims about the law that I don't back up with the appropriate reference. So, in some ways it's like a term paper, you know, a college term paper because you can't make a statement about the law and not give the people the opportunity to read the law. All through the PTSDog project, I've told people, “if you don't believe me, here's the link. Go read it yourself. Go to the .gov website. Go to the actual government website where the law is listed, read it for yourself, come to your own conclusions.
Joaquin Juatai: 40:42 I'm telling you what I'm reading here, what it says, I'm telling you what the discussions with the department of justice 88 division, they have a hotline you can call and ask questions. I've done that multiple times, you know, so I put all of that together with stories and photos of the veterans who lived it. At the end of the book I have interviews with I believe five different veterans about how their PTSD service dog changed their lives or actually all five of them saved their lives. I do address veteran suicide in the book. My own personal story and how that big lumps on the couch over there next to me saved my life literally. I talk about access at the VA in the book. That information has changed a little bit since the book was published.
Joaquin Juatai: 41:42 The VA came out with some updated policies. All that's available. Anything you see in the book, if it seems like it might be out of date, I've probably updated it already on the PTSDog page. Have already written an article about it. I'm going to have to come out with a second edition with more up to date stuff. I talk about the fact that the ADA is a civil rights law and with the understanding that what it does is guarantee equality for disabled people. How using a registry, forcing disabled handlers to register their service dogs would be discriminatory. There's a whole chapter on the service dog registry question. That's an important question especially right now because there are people in the service dog community, veterans who are actively trying to take away the rights of disabled service dog handlers because there are people out there abusing the protection that we have and claiming that their pets are service dogs when they are not.
Joaquin Juatai: 42:49 Why are we going to punish the people who are doing it right for the actions of criminals. And there's a real great parallel there with the second amendment, all these laws, all these gun laws, all the law-abiding people follow the gun laws and they're not breaking any laws. The people who don't follow the laws are the ones going out and shooting each other. How does making more laws and incriminating on the rights of lawful people stop criminals from doing what criminals do? The very definition of the word criminal is that they don't follow the law. It's simple logic, which apparently, you know, is beyond some people in today's society. I guess. You don't want to get me going on that soapbox because honestly, look what we're looking at, and it's a microcosm in the service dog community, what we're looking at is people who want to sacrifice their liberty for a false sense of security.
Joaquin Juatai: 43:45 I could tell you that I have read the comments from multiple Canadian service dog handlers in provinces where they have a service dog registry and they say it doesn't work. People claim their pets are service dogs all the time. They bully, they work their way in. They threatened us too, and the dogs completely misbehaved. And here I am following the law, jumping through the government's hoops to register my dog and it hasn't stopped the problem at all.
Scott DeLuzio: And what advice would you have for maybe a business owner who is dealing with something like that where somebody who's just coming in with their dog, their pet.
Joaquin Juatai: Look the ADA specifically the sections about service dogs is a perfectly written law because it defines and guarantees protection of the rights of disabled people who handle service dogs.
Joaquin Juatai: 44:45 And then it defines the rights of the businesses and it says specifically when it is not obvious what tasks that dog is trained to perform, the business may ask two questions. One, is that a service dog trained to assist with a disability? And if the answer is yes, what tasks is that dog tasked perform? Now, any legit service dog handler, we'll start rattling off a list of tasks. By the way, PTSD is not a task. Alerts me to changes in my condition that could be dangerous. Good definition of a task. Blocks creates personal boundaries for me. Helps lead me around, provides an alert. When I'm about to have an issue with my disability, that's perfectly acceptable. Now most of the people who are taking FIFI, the wonder poodle to the store, when they're asked the first question will say yes.
Joaquin Juatai: 45:49 And when they're asked the second question, have no clue and start blustering. The ADA then goes on to say that if a dog does not fulfill the definition of service dog, meaning it is not trained to perform work or tasks to assist with the handler or with a disability answers question number two, it is not under the handler's control or if it is out of control. The handler's not taking immediate effective action to regain control, which acknowledges that dogs are living beings and they can have bad days too and it gives the handler a chance to fix it or is not housebroken. So, if the dog is not trained, not task trained, not under control or not house broken, the business may ask that the animal be removed. The only restriction that the ADA puts on the business in regards to asking that animals be removed is that they still have to offer their services to the person.
Joaquin Juatai: 46:49 Ma'am, sir, I need you to take that dog out of here because it's creating a problem and you are welcome to come back in. Perfect example of how business can handle it. Service dog shouldn't be sitting at the table in the restaurant eating food from the owner's plate. It should be on the floor, four on the floor, there are exceptions. A small dog might be carried so that it could be near its handler's mouth if it's diabetic. Alert dog. Okay, remember when you go to a restaurant and you have your service dog with you, who's the customer? It's not the dog, right? Service dogs shouldn't be in carts at the grocery store. You can carry a dog small enough to be in the cart if it's diabetic alert dog. Otherwise its feet need to be on the floor.
Joaquin Juatai: 47:35 Where do dogs walk on the ground? What's on the ground? Dirt. Poop. God only knows. Why are you going to pick that up and put it in a cart where people put their food? Yeah, that's a how much ruder and more entitled and self-important could you be? Businesses have the right to ask, “excuse me, I need you to remove your dog from the cart.” That is perfectly within the law. The law says in most instances, the dog should not be in the cart. There are exceptions. A perfect example, an autism alert dog trained to assist a child with autism. The child's having a meltdown. The dog's trying to alert to meltdown, the dog's trying to apply deep pressure therapy. The best way to keep the child and the dog contained safely
Joaquin Juatai: 48:27 while you're trying to get them out of the grocery store is to put the child in the cart, put the dog in the cart so the dog can calm the child. That's a perfect example. I don't know anybody unless they're a complete heartless bastard who would say, no, you can't do that. It's obvious the dog is calming the child. And I don't know if you've had an experience. I had two autistic stepsons that I can tell you in a full-blown autism meltdown it's terrific. I mean, and not as in fantastic but as in terrible. It is a terrifying thing to witness. It's scary for the children too. So, you know, there's exceptions that the law says there are exceptions. Really the whole thing that I love the most about the ADA is that yes, it protects my rights, but it also explains that I have responsibility if I'm going to exercise that right, that responsibly being that my dog be trained, that my dog be under control, that my dog be house broken.
Joaquin Juatai: 49:36 And if my dog is not doing any of those things and groomed by the way, clean dog has to be clean, my dog's not doing any of those things or just not doing one of those things, it's my responsibility to either regain control or get them out of there. And so, it comes back to, entitlement versus responsibility. Are you going to be an entitled jerk and insist to see the manager and threatened to sue or are you going to pony up because you learned as you were training your dog that you're responsible for its behavior? And the dog's having a problem and you're going to stand up, be responsible and either correct the dog, have removed the dog, try again the next day. You know, I've had days with Skater where he just wasn't, he just wasn't doing, he wasn't feeling it. Whatever was going on.
Joaquin Juatai: 50:28 If he wasn't maybe he wasn't feeling very well, whatever, maybe the moon was full. I mean, just like people, they're dogs, they're living beings and some days they just are not there. They can't do it. I've gone into the store; I've seen that he wasn't going to settle down and focus. And I've turned around and I've left and I've come back the next day because I make the choice to be responsible and not be a bad example. Well, the last dog that came in here did this and this and this and this, you know, and that's it. You know? And that's, man, I hate hearing that when I come in and somebody's questioned, is that a service dog? Well, the last dog became in here. Is this that dog, is this dog doing whatever that dog did? No. See you later. Talk to you later. Come on, come on. I'm not breaking the law.
Scott DeLuzio: 51:21 This is great information for the veterans who might be on the fence about whether or not they want to get a service dog. If they think that might be something that would help them with their condition. Great information for the businesses and the general public too who are just generally uneducated about the subject. Really great information. Where can people go to find out more information about what you're doing and everything.
Joaquin Juatai: 51:50 A couple of places, I do not have a website right now. My web provider was horrible and I finally decided it was easier to just shut down the page and start shopping for a better provider than deal with that nonsense. So primarily my largest reach is on Facebook @PTSDog. I also have a PTSD dog group on mewe.com/PTSDog, I think, I have a YouTube channel, just search PTSDog on YouTube where I do Facebook lives and I'll upload them to the YouTube channel afterwards. And then there's the service dog show. The service dog show is actually changing its name. Used to be the service dog show with PTSDog. It is now, I think just going to be the Service Dog Show because I hired a co-host.
Joaquin Juatai: 52:42 The service dog show airs Sundays at 8:00 PM on DV radio, WDVR. You can find that a couple of ways. You can go to DV radio.net or you can tune into the DV radio station on live 365 and a DV radio also does podcasts of all the shows. So, you can find the service dog show on the DV radio channel on Pod bean, Stitcher, iTunes, Google Play, pretty much anywhere. Pod bean is really cool because they disseminate podcast to a thousand platforms. If it's a podcast platform, you probably find DV radio there. It's a great distribution system. So, what else? I do have an Instagram. It's PTSDog_Skater. I rarely ever use it. I hate it. I have a Twitter, also PTSDog again, rarely ever use it. I hate it. That's about it. Primarily Facebook right now. Unfortunately, the platform is dying, but it's still got the most reach.
Scott DeLuzio: 53:56 It does at least for the time being. Well that's great. I'll link to all of those locations in the show notes for the show and I'll link to your book as well so that people know where to find it and how to get in touch with you if they want to get more involved or have questions about service dogs in general. Thank you very much for coming on and sharing what your knowledge and your background on the situation with service dogs.
Joaquin Juatai: 54:28 Thank you. It's my pleasure. By the way, just to let the audience know, I do have a staff of moderators on the PTSDog page and we answer questions. They're all disabled veterans, all service dog handlers. And if you have questions, please don't hesitate to message the page and ask we’re there as close to 24/7 as we can be to answer those questions.
Scott DeLuzio: 54:49 That's amazing that you have that kind of access and availability to have people moderating that and answering the questions around the clock. That's great. All right, well thank you again and for anyone who's listening, all those links that we talked about will be in the show notes, so feel free to check it out on DriveOnPodcast.com and you'll be able to check out all the notes there and where to find the book, PTSDog, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and the Service Dog. Thank you again.
Joaquin Juatai: 55:24 Thank you.
Scott DeLuzio: 55:32 Thanks for listening to the Drive On Podcast. If you want to check out more episodes or learn more about the show, you can visit our website, Drive OnPodcast.com we're on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @DriveOnPodcast.