Monday, August 20, 2012

Hasty: Service dog's role still isn't understood

Katharine Royal wants to remind local business owners to be sensitive to those who rely on service dogs.
Royal, who was born with spina bifida and also suffers from bouts of post-traumatic stress disorder, relies on the services of Isaiah, a gentle service dog who wears a red identification vest in public.
She and her husband Micah were eating at a local restaurant recently when the manager approached her to tell her some of the other customers were uncomfortable about the dog at her feet.
"Which was kind of strange,'' Micah Royal said, "because everyone was friendly toward him.''
According to the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, not only are service animals allowed to accompany their owners in all public places, but the animals and their users cannot be isolated from other patrons.
And the Royals point out that just because the need for a service dog isn't always obvious, that doesn't mean the dog isn't important.
"People need to understand,'' Katharine Royal said, "that the majority of the population is not going to take a random house pet into a restaurant.''
No service dog could have been more loved than Devon, the Bernese mountain dog who was the mascot of Mira Foundation USA, the organization that matches service dogs with vision-impaired children.
Devon, the constant companion of Mira USA founder Bob Baillie, died Aug. 2 just two days after being diagnosed with bone cancer.
"My best buddy,'' Baillie said when the two made an appearance at the Fayetteville Kiwanis Club's May meeting.
Those in attendance that day will remember Devon's gentleness as he sat watchfully at Baillie's side.
Retired Superior Court Judge Maurice Braswell had the time of his life recently during the 42nd annual reunion in New Bern of the Association of Former Prisoners of War in Romania Inc.
For the first time, and thanks to some help from Braswell and his family who served as hosts, the event was held in the Southeast, on Aug. 3 and 4. Sixty-one people attended.
The weekend included a screening of "Paying the Price,'' a musical written by Braswell's son. Mark Walter Braswell wrote the play after reading his father's book, "Flaming Arrow: WWII as seen from a B-17.''
The play, which depicts Maurice Braswell's experiences as an injured tail gunner imprisoned in a POW camp in Bucharest, debuted in 2003 at the National Theater in Washington.
The Cape Fear Regional Theatre co-produced the show and provided the actors when the play was performed in Fayetteville in 2004 in the Airborne & Special Operations Museum.
Nine years after it was first performed, "Paying the Price'' still draws a crowd, as it did at New Bern's Christ Church Ministry Center.
"The crowd ate it up,'' Maurice Braswell, 89, said, "including me.''
Community news editor Kim Hasty can be reached at or 486-3591.

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