I love adventure, especially traveling. Sad to say, my thirst for adventure has been dampened by the ominous ritual of removing my shoes during TSA screening.
Everyone knows that when flying anywhere, protocol demands adherence to strict rules.
For a diabetic with a service dog, going through security takes forever.
Besides taking off shoes and jackets and placing laptops, purses and carry-ons in separate bins, I must also take off a treat pouch, gather all my insulin bottles to be hand-inspected (since they can’t be x-rayed), and prepare to be patted down since I wear an insulin pump.
I was trained the way my dog goes through security, and TSA also has specific procedures for service animal security screening. But every experience, they tell me to do something different. Usually, what they ask me to do goes against the training my dog and I have received.
For example, they’ve asked me to:
…Have my traveling companion take my dog while I get patted down.
…Leave my dog with a security agent.
And, weirder yet, they’ve told me to have the dog go through the metal detector first and then I follow. What’s up with that?
Note the line on the TSA web page:
“TSA will not separate you from your service animal.”
Two years ago, I had a very bad experience that involved high blood sugar, a health issue that required me to use a walker. I was also traveling with my 89-year-old, wheelchair-ridden mom (handled by my sister).
The large security man accused me of insulting and trying to attack an agent while my brain was fuzzy. I experienced my first panic attack because he threatened to arrest me as they rummaged through my carry-on.
Within inches of my accuser, I tried to breathe while collecting my belongings. I gave in to my weak knees and sat on my walker-chair, a blubbering mess.
Fortunately, I calmed down, but not until after some retail therapy in the gift shops, a large chai latte, and some snuggle time with my service dog.
Whenever I go through security, I face serious anxiety and pray to get myself through those gates.
I recently learned about an organization that can help people like me get through the process. Although I have a diabetic alert dog who also keeps me calm, he can’t do what this organization can – assist me with all my special needs through security.
Aiden’s thoughts about service dog relief stations in airports: Where a Dog Does His Business