Wednesday, December 21, 2011

YES WE CAN! & NO, WE DON’T: The Service Dog in the Social Setting

“Don’t pet and don’t distract are well known Service Dog rules. –These are certainly a good start but in the social setting Service Dog Etiquette is much more complex. –Consider the following real-life situations:


 “Do I have to wear Reindeer Antlers mom?”  “No, Goodee the Service Dog]. “. What gave you the idea you have to wear Antlers?”
“Well, we were invited to this party and one of the humans said: “It would be cool for us to put Antlers on the dog.”

“No Goodee the humans were being silly.”
My Service Dog Goodee is correct fashion consultants offer to outfit us in various items throughout the year. Clothing is both a required utility and personal choice for the Service Dog team. Stylish and cute items are often overlooked in the interest of safety.


 “Are there really going to be lcats and dogs at the party mom?”
“Well, I don’t know Goodee the Service Dog. I will find out.”
“That’s good mom.  You should find out because we can work with most anything it’s just always nice to know.” “I did hear a human say: “Goodee might need friends.”

“Gosh Goodee, you hear a lot.”
“Yes, mom I am a trained observer. I hear all kinds of things and report them to you so you can stay safe.”

“That’s correct Goodee, you keep me safe no matter what happens.”

In this exchange Goodee is concerned about cats and dogs because of both her natural dog instincts and her training to protect me. 
We like to enjoy ourselves when we go out but Team Goodee’s first concern must be our own safety. We often adjust for other animals and humans.


Are you inviting a Service Dog team to your social gathering?  it’s a good idea to give them a general situation sketch. Having a Service Dog often requires you to decide if you want to put yourself in the situation or you just need to “pass.”  For example, some Service Dog Teams may decide it’s ok to take in a zoo while others want to avoid the animals. —It depends upon the Service Dog and their job.


We entered a restaurant with a party of nine. Goodee quickly went to her appointed place under the table. Despite the smell of food Goodee did not beg, instead she went fast asleep. However, her slumber was short lived. She detected migraine pain and began working to get my attention. It is her job to alert me and see that I get to my medication and safety. “Oh great,” I thought “all these people and I have a migraine.”

“Think, think, oh gosh not now.” My scattered thoughts were interrupted as the lady next to me noticed Goodee.  “Oh pretty doggie, may I pet, please oh now could I?” The lady continued to beg.  “Sorry not now, she is working,” I indicate weakly as the migraine attack hits me head-on.

“Oh really, the dog is working?” the lady asks. “Yes,” I indicated in hopes that this would satisfy the inquiry. “Oh really she is working well… The stranger who thought we were fast friends continued a narrative on the definition of work. I did my best to tune out as I was still trying to find a way to discreetly medicate my pain.

“This couldn’t possibly get worse,” I thought to myself. Then, Goodee continues to escalate concern for my migraine. She knows if I lay in cold darkness I get better so she often urges me to seek out ideal locations.

“Oh the doggie touched me!” the table neighbor announces. “Oh see, she is smelling my dog,” the lady continues. “Leave it,” I advised Goodee. She quickly complied. “Oh it’s not ok for her to smell me?” the lady asked. --- “Education, education,” I thought to myself.
 “The lady doesn’t know you have a migraine, just reply to her,” I told myself.”

 “No, it’s not ok for a Service Dog to sniff while they are working,” I advised.  “Oh the dog is REALLY working”  “OMG! Are we continuing this circle logic?”” This is a nightmare,” I thought to myself.
“The Service Dog helps me with balance,” I continued  (thinking detail might assist in the overall understanding.

 “Oh you are not balanced right now?”” “But, you are sitting down” the inquirer continued.
 Finally Team Goodee excused ourselves for the evening.  In this instance retreat was our best option.


A large group of friends recently invited us to a movie.  Upon arrival, one friend said in concern “Oh will the dog be able to get into the movie?””  I didn’t call ahead.”
“Of course she can it’s not rated R”.  I joked, quickly explaining the law. . This place of public access indeed is required to admit a Service Dog.

I was happy to provide access education. Most people just don’t know the law. Then another obstacle came into view. Old, broken, high curbs lay ahead. “Find the ramp,” I advised Goodee. --- Surely, oh please…  Goodee looked in dismay. There was in fact no ramp to be found.
 Team Goodee realized we would have to go in search of the handicap access. We were prepared to do so. We finally located the ramp and began backing up. 

Suddenly, one of our friends yells, “Hey DD what’s wrong with your dog? I thought you said she was trained!”   Laughter breaks out from the group and strangers begin an on-looker circus.

“She IS trained!” I thought to myself. I used all my restraint I realized the person yelling simply does not understand Service Dogs or how they work.
In this instance Goodee was doing her best with what she had. She used her skill to get me to handicap access. . We have lot of ways to take care of ourselves. We did not need sideline comment or yelling.


At first it was a source of frustration but I soon learned to just laugh and move on. It often happens in social settings that we are asked to provide the entertainment. Here are some examples:
“My daughter isn’t feeling well, could she just pet the doggie”
“Could the doggie call my little boy? It might help him sleep”
“Can the doggie help with clean up?”
“Can your dog find my keys?”


Many times people feel stuck for conversation when they see a Service Dog.  Stories tend to roll out. I often hear of a childhood dog or a friend of a friend who has a Service Dog. Dog stories are interesting but there’s so much more to me.  If you are searching for an “ice breaker” consider weather or education---Anything but “The Dog.”
For the Service Dog Team familiar settings are often worse than strange ones. You don’t want to offend your family, friend, or co-worker so you do your best to adjust. The end of the day often finds you and the Service Dog exhausted from a series of encounters.


The Service Dog is a professional tool meant to be in trained hands.  The Service Dog Handler must be the one to decide when and how to work. While most Service Dog Teams enjoy social settings, the Service Dog is not a “social creature. “Distract the Doggie,” is not a party game. In fact, distraction of any kind can be dangerous.
“Isn’t the dog trained? They just shouldn’t be so delicate!” You may think. ---Well, you are a trained human. You are trained to do work in many settings. Do you ever find yourself distracted by a text, phone call, or Facebook? Probably so! It’s like that for the Service Dog they are trained and have a certain tolerance for distraction but the best of dogs can have a bad day.
Even in the social situation, please remember:

Not Now We Are Working!
GoodeeWorks Productions

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Service Dog Distraction: Woof, & Other Senseless Actions


“Goodee the Service Dog, what are you doing?”

"Making a BLOG, what else do you think?”

 “I’m not sure Goodee, but I don’t think a human typing a blog ever looks or sounds like that.”

"It's my version of  blog typing  mom.  Humans pretend they are dogs. Why can't I pretend I am a human who is blogging?"

"I think that's reasonable Goodee. Do you have an example of a human trying to be a dog?"

“Well the other day this guy in Wal-Mar.  oops no specific mentions in our blog .  I know I’m on it mom.  “
“Anyway, this guy he was doing all kinds of crazy things that he thought looked and sounded like a dog.”
“Like I said mom when we were in Wal—Mar., oops. I mean when we were in the store just going past him he did weird stuff.”

“What kind of stuff Goodee?”

“Well, like throwing his head back and saying ARF & WOOF. —Things dogs just don’t do.”
“What did we do Goodee?”  Well, I think you looked at him but I just went right past him.”

My Service Dog Goodee is right.  We encountered a guy that made all kinds of noises the minute he saw Goodee.   At first I wasn’t sure the purpose for all the noise.
I heard him tell on-lookers:  “Oh I was just trying to aggravate the dog.”
He was successful in aggravating the human but the professional Service Dog was not distracted.

Service dogs must be able to ignore all distractions while doing their tasks Hours of training goes into making sure the dog is fit for their intended use.


“Besides noises, are there other things that bother us, Goodee the Service Dog?”
“Yes mom, people coming too close to us and people trying to get my attention.”
Goodee is correct people often walk around us or run ahead of us making noise trying to get “the dog” to look at them. Often they will follow us all over a store. . Some adults tell their children to follow us. as if we are an amusement ride.

“Why shouldn’t people come too close to us Goodee?”

“Well DUH Mom!”

“Goodee don’t be silly. Stop using that Urban Dictionary. We are trying to talk to our friends”

“It’s not a good idea to come close to a Service Dog and their handler because the handler needs lot of room. They may fall or have another condition that requires lots of space.  If the Service Dog is in training or just over-stimulated they might become distracted. Furthermore, the Service Dog may think you are trying to harm their human and become protective. “

“Right Goodee.” “What do you suppose would be another reason people shouldn’t try to get your attention?”

“I’m a SERVICE DOG not a PET! I’m not paying attention to them and I don’t belong to them. I am busy WORKING and don’t have time to socialize.”

Service Dog Goodee is both direct and correct. I often need Goodee to help me walk or balance. Some Service Dog handler’s need their dog to retrieve items or observe medical conditions. There’s often no time to meet and greet others.


Sometimes people will practically stand on their head trying to get Goodee’s attention. Goodee ignores them and they continue behavior that looks and sounds silly. Some behaviors make no sense and are a danger to others.

“You would think people would be smarter than that.”   “Goodee the Service Dog!” “Don’t be rude.” 

“Just sayin’ mom.”

“There was a store employee once who bent down and called “here doggie,” as if I was going to go to him.” ---PLEASE! “I’m on a leash attached to someone’s arm why would I go to someone else?” --- Furthermore “Here doggie, is not in my vocabulary.”

“Right Goodee,”

There was another store employee instance where the employee threw a bite of shrimp on the ground and called to Goodee as we passed by. “Leave it,” I advised Goodee. We moved past with no interest. The employee looked up in dismay. This type of behavior makes the floor dangerously slick and often frustrates the Service Dog and their handler.
Perhaps the most discrete distraction is the store employee who looks down and continually makes faces trying to gain the dog’s attention. This can disrupt the dog from work. --- It also shows poor customer service skills. The human Service Dog handler should be addressed. The dog is an important medical tool, not a toy for your entertainment.

I’ve read of instances where people try to disrupt the Service Dog to create noise in the interest of complaining and getting free services.  I also know some people like to show of their communication skills. –Others are simply desperate to see a dog.


Team Goodee finds many wonderful people as we travel. The situations in our blog are often the rare situation selected from thousands of things we have encountered.
We strive to be an educational Resource not a rant.
If you need assistance finding information about Service Dogs, please contact us.

On behalf of Service Dog Teams everywhere to al forms of distraction we say: “Not Now We Are Working.”

GoodeeWorks Productions

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Give us ROOM!: Social Distance & the Service Dog Team

Recently in research I found humans value social distance. Harvard University Business Press has many publications about the importance of managing the correct distance in business dealings. The amount of “personal space” needed varies from situation to situation and culture to culture.
The need for a “zone” is also true in social settings. It is noted Americans like a distance of greater than 12 ft between themselves and the next person. —Only our “intimate zone" is less than 2ft(See Social distance (nd) retrieved 12/4/11 from

“Boy lots of people like to get intimate with us”

“Oh hello Goodee, the Service Dog. I didn’t know you were blogging today.
” “GoodeeWorks Productions, Goodee that’s me!”

"OK Goodee, I know as a working dog you must have an opinion

“How much space does a Service Dog & their handler need?”

“Well it depends on lots of things mom”
“Oh I see Goodee, you mean the human's needs change from time to time?"

“Well yes and only the Service Dog & their human (handler) will know how much space they need at any given time”

“Hmm, this is a tough situation Goodee.”

“How are others supposed to know the correct amount of space to put between themselves and a Service Dog and their handler?”

“I don’t know mom even you got that wrong!”

Ok thanks Goodee the Service Dog. Don’t you have other work to do?”

“NOPE! I’m YOUR Service Dog and I’m always working for you. Even when you and other people don’t know it”

My Service Dog Goodee is correct. I recently advised friends to allow us a space of 6 Ft .in all directions. I then found we often need more space.
It is ALWAYS a good idea to give the Service Dog & their handler lots of SPACE. —12ft or more is wonderful.


Goodee the Service Dog is specifically trained to help me with items, both visible and invisible. Her help is visible to all when I need balance. It is possibly less obvious to the untrained eye when Goodee calculates distances and signals me that it is safe to step downward. It is totally invisible when Goodee alerts me to the onset of migraines as much as 4 hours before I feel the symptoms
Service Dogs are often trained to guide their handler around obstacles (that includes any human) in their path. The dog has no way to know that you just want to stop and chat.

I know Goodee looks friendly and loveable. People naturally want to squeeze her like a stuffed toy. —“

"You mean like the soft Charmin tissue.

“Goodee no specific product endorsements in our Blog.”

"Ok, Squeezable, irresistible.”—“BUT”


“Correct, Goodee!”

"you are not a normal dog for people to approach.” “You look like other dogs but you don’t interact with people like other dogs.” “You don’t seek out treats people, or other dogs.” “You are on a mission.” “You don’t expect people to touch you when you work. “

“Oh mom, you should tell our friends not all Service Dogs wear clothing or identification in public.”

“Oh you are so right Goodee. Most Service Dog Handlers do have signs on their dog indicating they are a SERVICE OR ASSISTANCE DOG but not all do.

“So it would be a good idea for our friends to avoid all dogs they see in public?”

I think that’s a good rule Goodee.”

There seems to be an unwritten expectation in our culture that all dog owners are friendly and want to talk endlessly.
Service Dog Handlers are people with captivating, intelligent dogs. The Service Dog Handler is often a special individual who has overcome life-long or sudden adversity. --So why wouldn’t they want to stop and talk to you?-- After all, you are a friendly on-looker, you want to be polite and ask to pet their dog?



On a recent shopping trip I had ignored Goodee the Service Dog all day as she signaled that I might experience a migraine attack. “No, we aren’t having a migraine today. I won’t allow it, I told her.” Parental tapes played in my mind. “ my imagination..!” “It will get better just continue working!..”
Team Goodee navigated through the suoer-center. I said, “let’s get mom a cool rag. I’m not feeling well.”

Goodee’ looked expressively, SO I HAVE BEEN SAYING ALL DAY!”

We found cool water. I wiped my face.
“Better,” I thought to myself.

We exited the restroom---

along comes a mother and daughter pair....

“Oh doggie!” “Ask if you can pet the doggie.” “Look at the doggie!” the mom says excitedly. Her voice begins to ring in my head as I see an aura.
Goodee the Service Dog, right again I am in fact having a migraine attack.

Well!...” HMM HMM HHHAT HMM “ the strange mom type says in obnoxious tones echoing in my head.
“MY DAUGHTER IS ASKING YOU A QUESTION!” The stranger continued –Her attempts to get my attention grew LOUDER & LOUDER inside my migraine wrapped head.

Goodee the Service dog attempts to back up but there is simply no place to go. The strange woman and her daughter have us pinned against the wall.

I am looking at the strange twosome blankly. All I can process in my head is a high-pitched noise. I finally realize the little girl wants to know if she can pet Goodee.

Goodee the Service Dog has a vest with two clearly visible patches announcing SERVICE DOG WORKING DO NOT TOUCH. —Yet the stranger exceeds intimate space standards in hopes that she and her daughter are the exception to my written request.

Goodee was finally able to position herself between the strangers and myself. We moved forward to a couch... The room was in a spin. I tried to speak to the stranger several times but words would not come from my mouth.

In this instance, Goodee the Service Dog worked without my verbal commands. She is observant and skilled.

She needs SPACE. She is a WORKING DOG not a WELCOME DOG.

she needs to be left to her tasks.

Later, I told friends I regretted the situation. In four years of working with Goodee I have never before just been unable to speak.
I love to talk about service dogs and what they mean to the lives of others... Unfortunately, We are unable to be an interactive “Show & Tell” exhibit.


A recent trip found us (Team Goodee) in a busy airport during a weekday morning commute. The line at the security checkpoint was both long and busy.
A TSA Agent called to my attention that I had forgotten to remove my coat. I attempted to spin around quickly. Despite the efforts of Goodee the Service Dog I lost my balance and fell to the ground.

Goodee immediately went to work keeping people away from me. She looked at me awaiting a preparatory word,. She knows I will advise her when I want her to accept my weight and help me up.

However, this time I was unable to speak.

Suddenly six people were trying to circle me. Goodee was doing her job keeping them back. One by one the strangers offered a hand up.

Finally I was able to catch my breath:

“No, please don’t touch me! Don’t touch the dog! I said in an excited tone. ”

Team Goodee stood up, bruised but not broken.

A TSA Supervisor came around and asked, “Do you need anything?”

In frustration, I looked at him and said:

“Yes. I need to get on the plane with my dog and get to my destination on time.”

The Supervisor continued his inquiry,

“Do you need medical help?”

“Oh no," , I thought I can’t spend an afternoon here trying to get another flight.

"I want to go home. Let me have my chiropractor!"

"No sir," I said aloud "We just need to go."

In this instance on-lookers thought we needed them to move closer but we needed: ROOM, SPACE, A “ZONE” to execute our plan.


There are places to pet dogs.
There are places to gain education about Service/Assistance dogs.

In these specific locations people and dogs are ready for you to pet and ask away. , In normal day-to-day travels it is best to put space between you and any dog you see.

If you must travel near a Service Dog … Please, do so silently and allow at least 12 ft between yourself, the dog, and the handler..
Feel free to comment or email. If you see us out & about we may have to say:

“Not Now We Are Working”

GoodeeWorks Productions