Twelve rules follow when seeing a service dog

I haven’t blogged in two weeks…probably going to be the norm for awhile until I figure out what else to discuss (I take suggestions).  In the mean time, here are some rules to follow when seeing a service dog!

1. Do just that…SEE the service dog.  Do not talk to it, do not try to pet it, do not bother the dog.  The dog is there to work, not for your amusement.

2. If you see someone with a service dog and you MUST say something, acknowledge the HANDLER, not the dog, and please continue to follow rule #1.  Do not say “What a beautiful dog!” and then immediately bend over to get in the dog’s face, and proceed to tell it how beautiful and helpful it is.  First of all, it’s extremely rude, and secondly, while all service dogs should be able to handle ANYTHING, some dogs will take this as a threat, and you could get bitten.  If you wouldn’t do it with a strange dog you saw on the street, you shouldn’t do it to the working dog!

3. Don’t automatically assume a handler is blind.

4. To go along with #3, don’t assume the handler is blind, and then tell your child it is ok to pet the dog, because the handler won’t be able to see.  I can’t tell you how other handlers will react, but I will verbally eviscerate you, because that is NOT COOL!

5. Do not accuse a person of not having a real service dog because they are not blind.  Not all disabilities are visible.

6. Admire, but do not gawk.  It is not polite to stare, and that extends to staring at the dog.

7. Do not get mad when a handler does what they need to do to protect their partner.  If this includes yelling at you or your child, so be it.  I personally try to be very diplomatic, and give people a chance to back off…but if you’re going to stalk me around the store and get in my way while I’m shopping, you are not going to be met with a happy person.

8. To go with #7, respect the space of the handler and the dog.  This doesn’t mean we expect people to move out of our way or significantly alter how they are shopping.  All it means is that we would appreciate it if you would LOOK where you’re walking.  If the handler says “excuse me”, please give them some room to pass.  You would do the same for a person without a service dog, wouldn’t you?  Do not follow the handler and their partner around the store….it’s rude for one thing.  For another, you could be inadvertently forcing a person with a psychiatric disorder into a meltdown.

9. You don’t have to like it that the dog is in the store, but as long as the dog is a legitimate working animal, there’s nothing you can do about it.  Being nasty won’t help anybody.  Just tolerate the dog, do what you gotta do in the store, and be on your way, like any other day.

10. Do not scream when you see the dog.  The dog is there to work, and really couldn’t give two shits about you.  They will walk by you as if you don’t even exist.  They will not (should not) bite you or otherwise bother you.  Hell, as far as they’re concerned, you’re little more than a utility pole in the middle of the aisle.

11. It does not matter where you see the dog or what the dog is doing.  It doesn’t matter if the dog is in a static position (sitting, standing, or laying on the floor).  The dog is working at ALL TIMES.  The dog is not taking a break.  The dog is doing as the handler requested, and is holding that position for a REASON.  Do not distract the dog from its task.  Interfering with a working service dog is an illegal offense!

12. Control and EDUCATE your children!  Explain to them that they cannot run up to strange dogs (this is a good rule of thumb anyway), and explain WHY they cannot run up to strange dogs.  If your child gets away from you to go after the dog anyway, PLEASE be sure to APOLOGIZE to the handler!  Also explain to the child that the dog is a “helper/working dog”.  Do not tell them what kind of work the dog does, because you don’t know.

Not all service dog handlers are blind.  Telling the child every time you see a service dog that the handler is blind, or is only a helping trainer teaching the dog to help the blind becomes a perpetual string of misinformation.  That child will pass it along to another, and another, and another, and eventually, one of them will likely accuse a handler that ISN’T blind of being a fake.

EDIT 1/5/2012:

13.  Reiterating rule #1!!!!  My dog is medical equipment. Please do not talk to my dog. You wouldn’t talk to a wheelchair, you shouldn’t talk to my dog.

Talking to my dog also includes extending praise to my dog. You have no right to praise my dog. Why? Because aside from the fact that he is WORKING, he is MY dog, not YOUR dog.

I understand that you’re trying to be kind, but what you’re really being is RUDE! It is also much, much easier for my dog to ignore someone touching them (I will reiterate that you need to not touch my dog either), but it’s pretty doggone hard to ignore somebody that’s in your face, and there comes a realistic point where I can no longer be mad at the dog for responding to his environment.

Admire all you want. Ask me questions if you feel comfortable doing so. But do not. Talk.  To my dog.


That’s all for now…I’m sure I’ll think of more in the next couple days ^_^


~ by ClassicalSpazz on June 19, 2011.

One Response to “Twelve rules follow when seeing a service dog”

  1. I also have a service dog and am not blind. Got a kick out of reading this and feel like it should be posted everywhere…would also add “if you see someone who is obviously not blind with a service dog, it is not necessary to talk really loud and slow. I am not dumb or deaf!”

    Also, you look like a dummy if I get out of the driver seat, take my dog in his vest out of the back seat and you then explain to your friends that “it is a seeing eye dog”…ya right…he barks once for stop, twice for turn left, and three times for turn right!

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