Monday, June 27, 2016

Q&A with David R. Hardiman

David R. Hardiman is the author of the book Bailey's Remarkable Plan, which focuses on his life and his interactions with his service dog, Bailey. He is a businessman and entrepreneur, and he lives in Arlington, Texas.

Q: Why did you decide to write a book about Bailey, and what role has she played as you face your health challenges?

A: I was working on another book when I realized, one morning, I needed to write this book. Bailey and I had been denied the right to be in a local shopping mall; and, even when I requested the police respond, they were no better and stated they did not care what the ADA regulations allowed. If I refused to leave, they were going to arrest me.

I was issued a criminal trespass ticket like a common shoplifter. This was all because the mall did not allow “pets” which, of course, are not the same as service dogs.

Without Bailey, I have significant difficulty in public due to my struggles with PTSD. I have problems handling the stress of the noise, the crowd and the interaction with people, and I become shaky and feel the need to escape.

With Bailey, I am able to handle most situations. She alerts me before I start to experience a panic attack, and I have time to adjust. She makes it possible for me to have a better quality of life.

Q: What level of acceptance in society do you see for service dogs? Has that changed at all in recent years?

A: Service dogs and their humans often face challenges in public because people, including business owners, employees and even public servants, do not understand or recognize the rights afforded us under federal and state laws.

This is especially true for individuals who don’t show obvious disabilities and for small dogs who may be more easily confused for pets. 

Bailey is beautiful and is show quality, which sometimes causes the public to react as if she is just another pretty face. I think they sometimes believe she could not possibly be intelligent enough to take care of me. Others with service dogs have experienced this difficulty. 

Some improvement has been made, but much more education needs to occur. I have had occasions where people get in my face and scream that I either don’t have a service dog or that I can't have her with me regardless.

As more of us age or experience other issues in life, we are finding help from these marvelous gifts from God. That is part of why this book is so important and timely.

Q: You write in the book about various periods of your life. Did you plan out the book’s structure before you started writing, or did you make many changes along the way?

A: Bailey’s Remarkable Plan came together so quickly and easily. It was like my hands just somehow knew what to write.

I made some changes as I wrote the book, and I went back often to blend the events together; sometimes differently than first written. After I finished, I changed the structure to make the book more appealing and to help keep the interest higher from chapter to chapter. 

Q: What are you working on now?

A: I am working on two prequels to Bailey’s Remarkable Plan that will tell the story of my first years of life and some other scattered episodes, and another that tells the story of my grandfather and some very interesting aspects that turned out to be important in my future life.

I also am working two science fiction books. One is about time travel and encompasses a series of events in my own life. The other is about another world and is based on an interesting theory that is scientifically logical.

Q: Anything else we should know?
A: Bailey’s Remarkable Plan is a timely book about those of us who have disabilities, especially when they are not obvious, and who have service dogs that do not look like typical service dogs. The book helps inform people about all of us with service dogs in an entertaining fashion, while also educating and encouraging all. 

My challenges in life were many, and my ability to not only survive but to thrive is unique with the congenital condition I fought throughout my life. This book and my life are a testament to God’s power and the blessings he offers.

My story clearly defines by my life why it is so important to never give up, regardless of the difficulties and barriers that can be placed in the way of success. Taking the negatives and turning them into momentum can change the future to a positive. 

--Interview with Deborah Kalb

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