6/14/2013

Service dog etiquette breach

My daughter and I were at a meeting when there was a service dog etiquette breach. As per his pattern, our service dog was quietly laying on the floor in front of us. Before the meeting began, a few friends stopped by to pet him and say hello. This was okay because he knew them and because the meeting hadn't started yet. When my daughter gave the command, he quietly laid down in front of her.

 About 30 minutes into the meeting a woman got up, went to the water cooler and placed a cup water in front of our dog. He lapped at it and laid down. Then, he got up, looked around and began to act restless. His concentration was completely broken. The woman continued to give me the evil eye even after my daughter and dog left the meeting. (A gaze which I returned in kind.)

What she didn't realize (or care about) is he was taken out and offered water during every break. As a trained service dog, this pattern is part of his training. It is what he has come to expect and understand. He doesn't expect a stranger to suddenly stick a hand in front of his face for any reason.

The lady was rude in her assumption that we are bad "doggie parents". We can assume that she was motivated by compassion. However; the service dog etiquette breach has had predictable ramifications. What took months of training was broken in a minute. He is now looking for attention from strangers. Had the woman asked, we would have explained. Now, all we can do is get back to work.

By the way, in case he was thirsty, my daughter gave him more water when she took him outside. He didn't drink a single drop. Go figure.


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