This post comes about after talking to a fellow trainer/service dog user about educating the public at large about service dogs and etiquette around them. We shared horror stories. I am still amazed at how idiotic some people can be.
I really don’t mind educating people on all things related to working dogs. I feel that as a trainer, and as a service-dog partner/user, it’s part of my job. There are times, though, when I would just rather not. Maybe it’s a day when I’m not feeling well. Or a day when, frankly, I don’t feel sociable and am trying to run my errands as quickly as I can.
Here are some questions and comments I’d really like people to stop asking (some really isn’t their fault, but GAH, after you hear it a gazillion times, you contemplate putting the info straight onto the dog’s work coat…) along with the answers I either give or wish I could give:
- Why does he have a muzzle? Is he mean?
- It’s a gentle leader. It works like a head-halter you use on horses. Powerstearing for dogs! *
… But it looks too tight! It’s squishing his eye! Here, let me fix it!
- Put your hands on my dog and you die, bitch! (actually, I usually answer: No, it’s fine, he’s just pulling in a funny way. Please let him do his work.) *
- Is he in training?
- It’s written, on his cape, “Service Dog In Training”. Hooked on phonics worked for me!*
- Can I pet your dog?
- No, sweetie, he’s working right now.*
(I don’t mind the question. I mind when people don’t listen to the answer though.)
- Does he bite?
- Actually, yes he does.* (OK, so I don’t usually answer that, but I would if I could…)
- Sorry, you can’t bring a dog in here.
- Actually, yes I can. He is a service animal. He is wearing his ID cape, along with two tags which identify him, his school, me and, on the reverse side, you can see a copy of the relevant section of the ADA. *
- But you don’t look disabled!
- … but you don’t look stupid… your IQ isn’t written on your nametag. My disability isn’t easy to see.*
- I’ll have to ask my manager. Wait outside.
- Are you sure you want to do that? I hear the fines are really steep now for refusing access… *
- … but we serve food. It’s a health regulation.
- Look, dumbass, would you turn a guide dog away? I mean, knock yourself the fuck out, cocknugget. It’s your ass that will end up fired, not mine.*
- What happened to his tail? Did they cut it off? That’s so mean!
- He is a natural bobtail, though some dogs of his breed are docked. Mean as though it may be, it’s a godsend, considering the number of numbnuts who walk on my toller’s tail, or run it over with their carts, strollers, close the door on it… you name it. Trust me, Pirate doesn’t miss his tail. I can read his doggy behavior just fine without one.*
- Oh! Look, Timmy! A service dog! Isn’t he cuuuuute?
- That’s just fine, ma’am. I don’t mind if you continue your statement to little Timmy with “do you remember what we do when we see a service dog working? We leave it alone so it can do its’ job…” Please don’t let your spawn RUN UP TO THE DOG squealing, okay? No, it’s not cute. Honest. *
There are days when I will walk into a store with Pirate and hear that kind of conversation going on between a parent and a child. Or, the child will notice the dog and the parent will right away take the opportunity to tell the child about proper behavior around working dogs. This makes me very happy. Sometimes I stop and talk to the child, too.
What gets me is the “Ask the nice lady if you can pet her dog.”… and then the mother who gets all huffy because I won’t let little Mykkynzyee pet my working dog. Oooor the one who lets her child SCREAAAAM and run away. Or the one who will let the child run towards the dog, squealing.
Oh, and to the little Spawn of Motherfucking Cthulhu, you running up behind my working dog and BARKING, then running away, and trying to scare him over and over again IS NOT GOING TO MAKE ME VERY HAPPY. As for Cthulu, don’t shoot me that “how DARE you” look when I tell the spawn to stop harassing my dog, ok? Cunttrumpet.
GAH!. There, I feel better now. Oh the STORIES I could tell… Sometimes, people are just… so… DUMB.