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Dog Training


Doberman owner reports the effect of COVID-19-masked strangers on her trained assistance dog that is also a traditional guarding breed.





CinDee Byer, Journalist Award Winner


Monsters and ghosts are real. They live inside us and sometimes they win ~ Stephen King


Today the monsters are winning. After all, the invisible ones have us hiding in our houses while the visible ones wear scary facemasks. I am a person with a real disability, I use a real service dog but current antiviral (COVID-19) state regulations make it difficult to utilize my service dog in public.



I have found facemasks to be more than just awkward to use; they are also confusing to dogs. An effective service dog must be responsive to each command. A facemask makes it difficult for me to communicate those commands because it muffles my words and conceals my expressions.


In the past a concealed face has always signaled a threat. People were taught to fear masked people and dogs were taught to protect us from them. My Doberman is characteristically what a working dog should be. She is watchful, determined, and attentive to my needs. She alerts me to anything that is unusual.


Today that something unusual is a stranger wearing a mask. Thanks to the social distancing “hide at home” rule and “conceal your identity” regulations, strangers are everywhere. The current riots are especially troubling to law enforcement because almost everyone is masked.


I am currently working through this facemask dilemma with my dog. As I retrain her to accept strangers wearing masks, I ask myself why? Why should I un-train a trained dog that alerts and provides protection against strangers? Is a facemask effective? Extra precautions were needed in the early stage of this pandemic. People are now educated. The experts have defined what it is we are dealing with.


It is a virus and although it is a medical problem it has quickly become a “political football”. When this happens, it is time for people to do their own research. If we continue to blindly follow mainstream media rhetoric, we may find ourselves hiding in our houses for very long time.


Yes, and that is one of the ways the monsters win. The following are historic pandemics, some still kill millions of people worldwide each year.



• Measles killed nearly 10,000 over ten years before vaccines finally triumphed in the 1990’s.


• Tuberculosis (TB) is a global disease, found in every country in the world. It is the leading infectious cause of death worldwide. Last year, 10 million fell ill from TB and 1.5 million died.


• The 1918 Spanish flu epidemic was the deadliest flu season we know of, infecting about one-third of the world’s population.


• The "Russian Flu" Epidemic of 1889 took the life of 1 million people.


• During the 1957-58 "Asian Flu" Pandemic Approximately 1.1 million people died worldwide.


• The 1968 “Hong Kong Flu” Pandemic According to the CDC killed approximately 1 million people around the world.


• In recent years, the world has faced various viruses such as Ebola, H5N1, H7N9, Avian flu, and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), among others.


Oftentimes through such pandemics, there were no vaccines to stop the spread of the virus. There were no antiviral medications to help treat it, and no antibiotics to treat secondary bacterial infections that can come with it.


All that people could do to contain the spread of these diseases was to wash their hands, avoid public gatherings and “quarantine the sick.” What is different today? EST 1998 © 20S06



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