One of the things that I really struggle with as a result of having a service dog with me in public is how much attention he draws. It’s an oddity to see a dog in the grocery store. I understand that. Honestly I do. But he is clearly marked as a service dog, and I would think that people would have at least some idea of how to behave around one.
Some do, some don’t. Most people are just curious. Mostly they assume I’m training him for someone else. Sometimes I correct them, most times I don’t unless they ask me who I’m training him for. They comment on how beautiful he is.
I can’t exactly argue with that.
It’s an exercise in boundaries for me. You can ask me personal questions, but that does not mean I need to answer them. So generally I don’t.
Occasionally, people really throw me, though.
Like the girl at the cash register at the grocery store who asked me if I was blind.
I had been conversing with her for several minutes, making eye contact.
No, I’m not blind.
Then what’s your dog for?
He’s a medical alert dog.
So I explained to her how there are all different kinds of service dogs who alert their handlers to things like drops in blood sugar, seizures, etc.
I laughed and laughed and laughed once I got to the car. She was just innocently ignorant, but it was still hilarious. And now she knows a bit more.
It amazes me the number of adults who pet my dog while he’s working. Or who try to. You expect it from kids, and I try to fend them off the best I can (some of them are freaking persistent and their parents are useless), but adults? Come on, guys. You know better than that!
Anyway, I wrote a post about Steve specifically and about how to act around a service dog in general for the Team Unruly website. You should go check it out.
In addition, on May 17th, I will be walking in a fundraiser event to help raise money for the Susquehanna Service Dogs organization. I am fortunate enough that I had the ability and the right dog at the right time and could train my own service dog, but many folks can’t. SSD trains dogs for a variety of different types of assistance jobs, which is an expensive undertaking. They’re good people, and it makes my heart feel good to be able to give back a little bit, to maybe help somebody get a dog that they need by helping the organization raise money.
My personal page with donation information is located here and while I’m not trying to pressure anybody, if you are so inclined to donate, the link to do so is there. I am excited about this. I have several girls from work who are also going to walk, so I’m looking forward to that. It should be good.
My little way to try to help, to try to make a difference. Every little bit counts, right? Something is more than nothing.