Fauna’s Adventures

Fauna’s Adventures is an ever-growing body of photographic work created by Award-winning blind photographer Ted Tahquechi to promote the use of legitimate service animals in the travel and hospitality industries.  The project features images of Ted and his guide dog Fauna from their travels both local and international. The collection made its debut at Access Gallery in the Santa Fe Art District in Denver and is slated for showings through the end of this year. If you would like to exhibit this work in your establishment, please feel free to contact Ted at nedskee@tahquechi.com

From the artist:

“Fauna and I travel regularly, and Fauna’s Adventures is being created with support from amazing organizations including: United Airlines, Amtrak, Special Olympics, Hilton Hotels and many Denver-based hotels. I am partnering with these organizations to create images to promote their support of legitimate service animals. Until the government gets involved and enacts legislation to reduce the rampant use of fraudulent service animals, Fauna and I will be doing our part to educate the public about the important role real service animals play in our society.

We love to visit schools and businesses where we can offer information on proper etiquette when meeting a service dog, as well as the rights of the users of these amazing animals. It has been my experience that people are largely unaware of how a well-trained working animal should act, and Fauna is happy to be the ambassador of good dogs everywhere.” – Ted

Why did you start this project?

We have all been in a store or restaurant and seen a dog wearing a little vest, dressed as a “service animal”. These dogs will often bark or lunge at people or other dogs out of fear, because they have not been trained to handle public situations. Incidents of pets masquerading as service animals has reached a critical level of crazy in recent years. Many state and local governments have passed legislation punishing those who misrepresent pets as service animals, but the reality of the situation is that these laws are seldom enforced. These laws carry a minimal penalty, doing little to discourage the behavior of the owners. Lack of education on the part of restaurant and shopowners means fraudulent service animals largely go unchallenged, only emboldening these dishonest people and casting doubt on those who use legitimate service animals. It is with this in mind that I have created a body of work which features my guide dog Fauna, to educate and advocate for the use of properly trained service animals in the hospitality and travel industries.

The road to becoming a guide dog:

I’m often asked how much training Fauna has had, and the process the dogs go through to become a guide. Service dogs can be trained to be guide dogs for the blind, hearing dogs for the deaf, provide mobility assistance for people in wheelchairs and be trained to respond to seizures or low blood sugar in diabetics. My guide dog Fauna was trained at Guide Dogs for the Blind in San Rafael Ca. Only three in eight puppies make it through the rigorous training program to become part of a guide dog team. To graduate their program, the dogs participate in a 15-month socialization and training program with puppy raisers, which exposes the dogs to a myriad of environments. They exit the puppy program well trained, well behaved and incredibly well socialized – meaning they won’t ever lunge or bark at other dogs or people when out and about. Upon graduating puppy training, the dogs are evaluated and if selected, will enter Guide Dog training, while the remainder will be career-changed to a partner program and trained to help with other types of disabilities such as seizure detection. Formal guide dog training lasts for 16 weeks and at that time, the dogs are paired with an appropriate teammate for an intensive two-week training program. If the guide passes all proficiency criteria, the dog will begin their career as a working guide dog.

Faux service animals:

Fraudulent service animal owners are often well educated and aware of the required information they need to provide in order to justify their misrepresented pet as a service animal. Though the ADA states on their website (you can find links to resources at the end of this page) that registration of service animals is not required, that has not stopped numerous organizations online from offering questionable identification credentials, allowing almost any animal to masquerade as a service animal. The frustrating part of the story is these people will produce an official-looking ID card when confronted, and often businesses will not question them further. The sad truth here is that people feel as if they are entitled to bring their pets with them wherever they go, whether it be a pig, peacock, squirrel or alligator in the guise of emotional support animals – expecting them to have all the rights a legitimate service animal like Fauna has.

The laws need updating!

The legislation in its current state makes calling out pets misrepresented as service animals difficult. Under the current law, businesses that prohibit pets would be required to post signs informing their patrons that they welcome service animals and are legally allowed to ask the owner if the animal is a service animal required because of a disability – and what work or task the animal is trained to perform. Often, hostess staff are unfamiliar with ADA guidelines, or are afraid to challenge the customer. This leads to embarrassment and the staff member often letting the customer in. To make matters worse, businesses may not file complaints against suspected violators unless they post a public notice stating they reserve the right to file a complaint over the misrepresentation of service animals. It is my hope that education about the ADA and legitimate service animals leads to changes in the current law.

Work with us!

If your organization would lie to be part of my project, there is no cost and you will receive images which can be used in print and on your social media. We are happy to visit your school or business in the Denver area for a quick training session on customers with guide dogs.  Feel free to contact me on my social media links below or on the contact page here on my website. I don’t charge for my time, Fauna and I do this to spread the word about service animals and the life-changing difference they make in their handler’s lives.  

Article Resources:

ADA Main Website:

https://www.ada.gov/

Frequently asked questions about rights for service animal users:

https://www.ada.gov/regs2010/service_animal_qa.html

My Photography site:

My travel site:

My Email:

nedskee@tahquechi.com

Special Thanks

A very special thank you to the following organizations for their support of the Fauna’s Adventures project and promoting legitimate service animal use!

United Airlines:
https://www.united.com/

Amtrak:
https://www.amtrak.com/

Hilton Hotels and Embassy Suites:
https://www.hilton.com/

Special Olympics:
https://specialolympics.org/

The Crawford Hotel and Union Station Denver:
https://www.thecrawfordhotel.com/