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?