(Things you need to know about Service Dogs during the holidays and obviously don’t)
My Service Dog is a constant help to me. I have absolutely no balance without her. She functions as a cane, and provides balance and counter balance. This is probably something you don’t realize your body does for you automatically.
Service Dogs are AMAZING; they provide things to a human that are not available from other devices. In my case, my peripheral vison is so poor due to brain damage, that my entire body is off-balance. I look down and things appear further away, or closer than they are. —This means when I try to use a cane it becomes another object to fall over.
Having my Service Dog Goodee out in front of me allows my body to compensate and I become aware of the depth of things, making it easier to use steps. I also use Goodee to retrieve things from high shelves. In some instances, I am unable to see the handicap ramp but I give Goodee a command to search for it.
A Service Dog is life-changing for the disabled person who uses it. On some levels the Service Dog looks and acts like every dog; however, they are in no way typical or average. A Service Dog goes through years of training and continual training and testing to be reliable for the disabled handler.
It is most helpful and in fact vital that the Service Dog and handler be given access to public areas and freedom of movement.
Here are a few ways the well-meaning public blocks access for Service Dogs, creating a barrier, and defeating the purpose of a person having a Service Dog. This creates a highly frustrating situation. —Which is a nice way of saying: Please get a grip, notice it’s a dog and move on. Service Dog handlers are people, just like you. At the end of the day we just want to get stuff done.
1. THE BOX IN: This is where the Service Dog and handler are turned around looking at something on a shelf and everyone else in the store becomes so fascinated by the “neat dog,” shopping carts and people form a circle, the Service Dog handler turns around to try to exit finding the wagons are “circled” to a point that there is NO EXIT. Someone finally realizes they need to BACK UP AND GIVE THE DOG SPACE. —This would be so the human can continue shopping. --- PS. Don’t look at the handler like they have three-heads as they are working their way through the maze you created. Many Service Dog handlers can see and hear, we all have feelings.
2. HANG UP THE CELL PHONE AND DRIVE: When you are in a store please notice the Service Dog and shopping cart are a wide load coming at you. —The dog may not be able to “stop short,” “change lanes,” or “U-turn.”
3. THE STALKER: Please don’t follow a Service Dog and handler for several blocks throughout the store. They are not likely to share information with you between the toilet paper and cat food. When you see a Service Dog just MOVE ON. If you have a question about Service Dogs or training, it’s on the web google: Service Dogs Your Town USA. If you have a question about the dog: Their name, breed, rank in litter, that’s information you don’t need. Why do you need the dog’s name? Are you wanting to make conversation with a total stranger? Most Service Dog handlers don’t like to give out the dog’s name. — because it’s natural to call the dog as soon as you know the name, this causes a distraction for the working dog. If you want to know: what the dog does, how long the person has it, or why they got it, this may include private medical information and in some cases talking about these items is a PTSD trigger.
4. SILENCE IS APPREACIATED: The Service Dog is trained to ignore you. When you continually say “see doggie,” making barking noises, or point. It’s not cute it’s rude. You don’t look cool you look like an idiot. While it is natural for a child to say “doggie” when they see one, adults should not be nearly as amused. If the dog isn’t distracted the human handler certainly is. In case you don’t notice you are not original, the Service Dog and handler have heard all your obnoxious comments before.
5. IF YOU MUST HAVE A “TEACHABLE MOMENT” for your child, please do so FAR AWAY from the Service Dog. The dog you are making into a teaching exercise is in fact a medical device upon which the handler is totally dependent. There is a one-time limit on “see the doggie.”—If you say it 5 times and the child has still not shown an interest please get over it and go away!
6. NO “ARM CHAIR” COMMENTS: Things such as: “You are making that poor dog work,” “Oh the dog is working hard,” and “You made your dog tired,” are unnecessary and unwanted. Only the handler knows when a dog is working. When you see, a dog laying it doesn’t mean it is not “working.” If you have comments about a working dog put them on opinion web sites don’t confront a handler while shopping.
7. PUT YOURSELF ON “MUTE” AND KEEP YOUR HANDS AWAY FROM THE SERVICE DOG.
Do not talk to the dog. Your chatter may contribute to a medical emergency for the disabled person. No “fly by” pets. If a sign says DO NOT PET, it is there for a reason. When you insist upon petting you are not cute, you are a jerk without regard for others. “Fly bys” cause loss of function and may contribute to falls, seizures, or “flashbacks” for the disabled handler.
8. No “Critiques” for the dog. The Service Dog is aware of being “cute,” “good,” or any other adjective you can use. DO NOT TELL the DOG “You’re a good dog.” In fact, you have no way of knowing if the dog has been good or just done something for which they need to be scolded.
9. NO FEEDING THE SERVICE DOG Many Service Animals are on special diets. ASK before offering the Service Dog anything. I do not let my Service Dog accept food from strangers. We go out often, and I don’t want her to think she will get food everywhere. Furthermore, you just never know what a stranger may feed your dog.
My Service Dog Goodee is highly skilled with magic words. I was proud of her when she showed no interest in shrimp, a worker threw to the floor to “call the doggie.”—
Dear Dipshit employee,
The dog is attached to a leash; she is trained NOT to pay attention to you. She is in fact, attached to my body and it’s her job to stay with me. She knows not to take food from strangers. —Yes, I CAN see I am NOT BLIND—even if I was I could sense you trying to distract the dog.
Sorry we can’t do a little show for you. Do you think you could go back to your job and leave us to ours?
PS. That looked like good Jumbo Shrimp you threw to the ground. Does your employer know you are wasteful?
When you see us out and about please know we must say:
NOT NOW, WE ARE WORKING!