Inside / Outside

“Penny Loker’s birth defects disfigured her face, but neither affected the person she is on the inside.”

CNN’s profile of a woman born with Goldenhar Syndrome leads with this statement.  And once again, while I applaud their effort and heck, even the fact that they’re spotligting facial differences in the first place, this insistence annoys me to no end.  Why is it that we as a society cannot conceptualize being a successful, functioning person while at the same time being profoundly influenced by something? It’s an all or nothing scenario, which sells everyone short.  It’s just interesting to think about when reading things written about and by people with disabilities and medical conditions.

More often than not, unfortunately, society seems to still fall into the tropes of the heroic disabled person who rises above everything and succeeds.  While some people find power or validation in that narrative, I always find it rather mortifying when someone attempts to apply it to me.  There is nothing heroic or special about the way I live my life with my medical condition.  I know that sounds kind of blunt, but it’s just how I feel.  It just inherently rubs me the wrong way due to my history.

So basically, I applaud Penny Loker for contacting CNN in the first place (seriously, check out the article to get the back story), but I wish the article itself hadn’t gotten too wrapped up in the usual language about disabilities.

In other Inside / Outside – related news, Cassius and I were successfully re-certified inside Coddingtown Mall (yet again…). The Assistance Dogs International certification is good to do because it sets a benchmark for all assistance dogs, not just CCI, and it was nice for me to see that we were still good skill-wise.  We did goof and Cassius ate a piece of food in the 3rd food drop (seriously! 3 of them!) I slacked off and he went for it, but as long as you do something about it and correct them for it, luckily that doesn’t make you fail! Cassius loved playing outside in  Gittinger Park on the CCI Campus, a massive dog park only open to graduates, puppies in training, change of career dogs and employees dogs.  We weren’t able to go there after graduation in February, so it was fun to see Cassius romp around with the other dogs for a bit. Who knew he could run this fast?

And lastly, a few adorable inside/outside dog stories for the weekend.  Yesterday, I did my first Whole Foods run with Cassius. He was perfect, although a little overwhelmed by the soap smells in the Whole Body section.  His nose was going all over the place.  On our way out, I heard a mother telling her toddler that he was a “smart dog” – I just thought that was adorable.  And today at the Farmer’s Market, I encountered a very curious toddler and his mother.  Since Cassius and I were sitting in line, I told the boy he could pet him. He gave Cassius a few pats on the nose, and Cassius ate it all up with a wagging tail and a few licks. Both boy, dog and me were very happy with that encounter.

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