Tag Archives: etiquette

Roadtrip Part Three

Hi Friends –

I have another Oklahoma based post for you today. Alright, well, it may be more of a rant but I know you love me so I hope you’ll excuse me if I am not quite uplifting today. I just feel the need to share a quick story that directly relates to why I ask all of you to share this blog and like my Facebook page. I know you all read and shared Dad’s post the other day about service dogs and life changing events, right? Good. (…and all the other posts? It’s really important to me.) See, I have asked Dad and Mom to set out on a quest, a mission of awareness, even though Dad tends to doubt his “voice” he promised me he’d try. We may crash and burn (I doubt that) but that’s OK; if we do, my next alias will just have to be Ash, and we move on.

I bring this entire subject up because I’m reminded of what Dad told us about him being surprised that many humans are not aware of the basic tenants of interaction with a blue-collar working dog.

Many of you know this so excuse me if I restate the obvious (to some), here is a short list of rules I’m asking you to consider before you approach us while we’re working.

1. Speak to the person first. Do not aim distracting or rude noises at the dog.

2. Do not touch the service dog without asking for, and receiving, permission.

3. Do not offer food to the service dog.

4. Do not ask personal questions about the handler’s disability, or otherwise intrude on his or her privacy.

5. Don’t be offended if the handler does not wish to chat about the service dog.

While the family and I were in Oklahoma enjoying our extended family, which Dad and I just had the pleasure of meeting for the first time, part of the pack went out to a restaurant for a good time. I won’t mention the name. (…but it rhymes with Waghetti Sparehouse) We arrived and we were greeted by very nice people but one human was so fascinated with me and Dad that he barely completed his work. As a matter of fact he went about breaking rule #1, quickly followed by rule #2. Dad’s jaw was so far agape that he ignored it rather than make a scene. He also forgot that I carry information cards that remind humans of the basics.

As soon as he greeted the party, he ignored Dad and gave me pets. That happens, and we were not moving at the time so we most often let that go. Mom and Dad like to pet animals, too. (It was technically wrong, but they would ask first.) So, this was only answered by a deep breath and eye rolling. We didn’t have to wait long for a table for six plus me. He also then looked at Nanny and asked her if I was a seeing-eye dog. Then the problem continued; we were made aware that our table was ready by the fact that the gentleman called me. He did this by making direct eye contact, patting his leg loudly and saying, “come on doggy, your table is ready, follow me.” I know! Dad he was ready to lose his composure. He wanted to correct the behavior with a wiffle bat, repeatedly! (For those of you not familiar with SDP, they use a wiffle bat to make loud noises when a major distraction is called for during training opportunities. Totally physically harmless to us, I assure you.) I repeat: this is the first time meeting this side of the family, so he chose not to appear crazy and make this a topic of discussion over dinner. The meal and wait staff was pleasant, followed all the rules, and shared their personal dog stories. It was great. The end of the meal came, as we were leaving the same gentleman chased after me and called out to try to get in one last pet. Dad and I were walking this time, not standing still. Again, we kept it together and shared the adventure after the fact. Mom surely was not happy and wished for a wiffle bat of her own.  Nanny told her later that on the walk to the table that same man started talking to HER about me and how what Dad’s disability was. Nanny played it cool and just kept the answers simple and non-intrusive.

Now that I’m recounting the event I think we should find the receipt for that meal to confirm the date and time then send this blog post to the management staff and ask them to train that individual.

*On a side not there was one other wait staff incident on the trip. A waitress came to the table and said, “Hey dog! You are in my way!!!” We think she was trying to be cute, but through the meal she made a point to show us how in the way he was and how much she was put out. Mom decided to talk to the manager. We weren’t mad, but wanted to make sure they get the proper training.*

Thank you to all of you in my loyal blog and Facebook pack. I need to come up with a team name for all of you…that’s a fun idea, huh?

 

Written by DFS and LJS

PSA Mondays: Fake Service Animals

Hello, everyone, Capser’s mom here with another PSA.

We have already talked about Service Dog Etiquette, and if you haven’t read that you really should. It is probably the most important bit of information we have posted to date.  In that post there were a few things I said I would touch on later. One was about people bringing non-service dogs into stores and restaurants. I had not planned to talk about this more just yet, but then I saw a headline on Huffington Post:

‘Fake’ Service Dog Certificates Being Used So Owners Can Take Pets To Restaurants, Clubs

NOT COOL, PEOPLE! Not. Cool.  Apparently it’s becoming a trend in NYC to get a fake service dog certificate for your pet so that you can take them anywhere you. Go ahead, click that link and read the story…I’ll wait.

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Yep. I didn’t make this crap up. And sadly, this happens everywhere, just not usually so many in the same geographical area. And this CHAPS OUR HIDE!!!

Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE pets. Dan and I considered ourselves to be “professional dog stalkers” before we had Casper. The kids were trained to do this right: The youngest puppy would run ahead (she is faster than us and not as shy as her sister) and ask the dog owner if we could pet the dog. Then we all caught up and got to pet it, too. It was great. I love seeing dogs out on walks with owners…as long as it is in an acceptable area. Outdoor malls, parks, beaches, farmer’s markets, etc… are full of these wonderful dog owners and it is great. It can be a little troublesome for us now since Casper is still working on his manners with other dogs, but when we are someplace where it is expected to see another dog we can be prepared. I dread the day we go into a restaurant or grocery store and there is another dog there. It will probably happen. And chances are the other dog is not actually a service animal.

The other problem I have with this is that it makes it harder for those of us who do have service animals to be respected by the public. Great Danes are not considered a ‘typical’ service dog breed so we are already confronted with some skepticism. When Dan’s legs are particularly tight there are fewer questions because his disability is more visible, but other days people often don’t notice his different gait (thanks to Casper). We know many other SDP recipients who have less visible disabilities and I imagine they are faced with doubt as well. Then there are the people who have a very small breed service animal that is used for anxiety, seizure detection, autism, and any number of other issues that do not require a larger dog. I know that those dogs are often seen as not “real” service animals anyway.

And here I have to make a confession.  Yesterday we went to the grocery store. Just before we got out of the car I noticed a woman headed to her car with a TINY dog in a bag over her shoulder. I pointed it out thinking how cute it was, but I was desperately thankful that they were already done. As we were checking out a woman who works there mentioned a woman who was just in here with her little service dog. My first thought was, “Yeah, right!” Of course, I am very aware that it could have been a service dog. But, how do I know for sure? I want to give people the benefit of the doubt, yet I am suspicious because of how many people abuse the service dog designation. And little dogs are more likely to be used in this scam since they can be carried around easily.

The biggest problem is that there is no official way to prove a dog is a service dog or not. You can order service dog vests and ID cards online and do not have to show any type of proof. And truthfully, if there was it would probably prevent a lot of people from ever getting one. Service dogs cost a LOT of money to raise and train. Most people have to raise thousands of dollars already to get their dog. If there became some official designation you could go through then it would likely just raise the cost of these dogs. (Thank you, SDP, for making dogs so much more accessible for those of us who cannot raise that kind of money. And while I am thinking about it, please go HERE to buy a “chicken brick” that helps them pay their bils!)

Then there is one more issue I have with this whole crazy thing. Service dogs need to be attentive to their handler at all times while on duty. You throw another dog in the mix and it is trouble. Casper is a puppy so this is a HUGE problem for us, one of the only big problems we have, but even older service dogs can have problems with this. What if you were working and you knew you could not get distracted, but in walks Adam Levine (or Sofia Vergara for you guys) or whoever would make your brain empty of all real thought. That is kind of what it is like for a dog to see another dog. It is EXCITING!!!! A well-trained older dog might react more like seeing David Spade, you don’t really care about them at all, but it IS a celebrity in your work place so that is pretty cool and quite distracting as well.

So here we are. I don’t even know where to go from here. I have vented, but how do we solve this? My hope is to get this information out there. I think if these people who are pretending to have service animals realized how much damage they are causing for real service animals they might think twice about doing this. Please share this post. Pass it along. Promote it. Please help us get the word out on all of our PSA Monday posts. Maybe together we can make a difference and educate some people.

Thanks for reading, guys.

written by LJS