What a Remarkable Dog

Christian nonfiction book Bailey’s Remarkable Plan, by Arlington author Dave Richardson (pen name David R. Hardiman), tells the story of a smart and loving shih tzu service dog named Bailey. An unlikely breed for service, Richardson says Bailey is perfectly suited to the task. This book takes the reader on the author’s decades-long journey living with a rare medical condition coupled with post-traumatic stress disorder and Bailey’s intuitive ability to help him cope. 

Q: Thank you, Dave, for taking the time to share your thoughts about service dogs and about your book. Service dogs do extraordinary work every day for the people in their care. What characteristics, in your opinion, make for a good service dog-owner relationship?
A service dog and the person it assists must have mutual trust and love. Service dog and owner need perception showing keenness of insight, understanding and intuition. Service dogs need a calm demeanor and personality suited for their owner and service. A service dog must concentrate on its work and not be distracted by surroundings or other elements and be intellectually superior. 

Q: What qualifies Bailey as a service dog? 
Bailey assists me with two conditions. Born with a rare congenital defect in my immune system, I later developed PTSD. Stress places an added burden on my immune system, often resulting in less resistance, and I become physically ill. Bailey works with me to reduce my stress level, alerting me before I become overwhelmed. My oncologist feels that she makes enough difference in lessening my stress level that she serves an essential part of my care. Bailey senses, before me, when I am nearing a panic attack and alerts me. I am able to trust her to mitigate any issue, and that allows me to enjoy public life. She has helped me regain my life. She has not and cannot cure me. But, because of Bailey, I am able to face daily challenges and again cope and even enjoy a more public life. I am able to be strong again by accepting her help. 

Q: What prompted you to write this book, and who is the intended audience? Why would we want to buy this book? 
While shopping with my wife and adult daughter at a local mall in 2013, I was accosted by a mall security guard who told me I had to leave with my “pet.” He refused to believe I am disabled and Bailey is my service dog. I requested police assistance, and they were no better. I was issued a criminal trespass warning citation stating that if I set foot on mall property for the next 12 months, I would be arrested. Recognizing lack of public education and understanding of the laws regarding service dogs is a significant problem. I determined to write a compelling story educating and entertaining the public. Bailey’s Remarkable Plan appeals to multiple audiences. Bailey’s and my story will be enjoyed by those looking for inspiration, those wanting to know about service dogs, or even simply wanting to be entertained by stories about a boy, a man and his dog.

Q: What is the general public's reaction to Bailey, and what do you want people to understand about service dogs?
Bailey attracts people with her charismatic personality and beauty. People need to accept the tremendous good service dogs do in making it possible for those with disabilities to reclaim their lives. A service dog is different than a pet. I depend on Bailey to function in life.

Q: Do you believe that Bailey could be a service dog for anyone other than you?
Bailey probably could be someone else’s service dog. However, the bond we share may not exist with a different human in Bailey’s mind. For example, she does not attempt to assist my wife, even though she loves her very much. I choose to believe Bailey and I are uniquely suited for each other.

Q: There seems to be more recognition of the use of service dogs these days. Have you noticed a change, and what do you think needs to happen for there to be more general acceptance of service dogs?
Having ADA laws and state laws is not enough. The key is education to better acceptance and understanding. Although I have seen improvements, we are not there yet in creating an atmosphere comfortable for those requiring service dogs. Part of my goal in writing Bailey’s Remarkable Plan was to accomplish this very task of education in an entertaining enjoyable story without the dry ADA law facts.

Q: What is your book’s key takeaway?
How we face challenges determines how we survive or thrive. Making conscious decisions that you can overcome will change or even save your life. Never give up. 

For more information, visit baileysremarkableplan.com.