“That’s the biggest lizard I’ve ever seen,” said the matron cradling a miniature, white poodle.
The portly man sporting sagging jowls looked past his bulging belly with love in his eyes to the large, leashed lizard on the floor at his feet. “Yep, he’s a beauty. I get so depressed when he’s not with me.” The lizard seemed unimpressed.
“Oh, I know what you mean,” replied the woman. “I take Fruity-Pie with me everywhere. She’s the love of my life.” The dog let loose a series of squealing yaps directed toward the lizard.
Eyeing the woman critically, the portly man could understand how she had come to feel that way. He kept his thoughts to himself.
The woman gently placed Fruity-Pie onto the floor but away from the lizard. Immediately, the animal lifted a hind leg and began licking its bottom contentedly while its owner rummaged in her purse for her boarding pass. Locating the printed paper, she quickly lifted the dog from the floor, nuzzling her nose to its cold, wet snout. In return, the animal licked the woman’s lips. Each flick of its pink tongue actually was less a sign of its affection and more a sign of its peculiar affinity for the taste of her lipstick.
Unknown to the animals themselves, the dog and the lizard had something in common besides being non-human vertebrates. They both wore vests visually screaming the words, “Service Animal”.
Having watched the bonding of man to lizard and woman to canine, a young man approached the uniformed, young woman behind the service-counter. “Will those animals be on this flight?” he inquired not bothering to conceal his annoyance.
“Yes, Sir. They’re both ‘Service Animals’. It’s the law,” she answered.
“Then, once again, the law proves itself an ass.(1) You can’t allow that dog onto this flight. I don’t care as much about the lizard, but I’m violently allergic to dogs. If that dog causes me to have an attack of asthma, I could go into status asthmaticus and die.”
“We can put you onto a later flight if you wish. The next one leaves in seven hours,” responded the agent, flashing a smile of cool insincerity.
“Why should I have to surrender my seat, so a dog can fly in the passengers’ compartment?(2) Why not put it in the hold where it belongs?”
“I’m sorry, Sir. We can’t do that. The Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits it.”
“What about my disability . . . a life-threatening allergy to those mutts?”
“I’m sorry, Sir. I can’t see your disability. I can see the dog.”
Note: This fictional vignette relates to what has been termed “Radical Maternalism” (www.inescapableconsequences.com).
1. Dickens, C: Oliver Twist. London: Richard Bentley (1837).
2. Zimmerman, A: “Leapin’ Lizards! Service Animals Are Multiplying Like Doggone Rabbits.” The Wall Street Journal, 24 February 2011, page A1.