My mom and I are in a variety of public settings regularly. And in our travels, we encounter an abundance of people. Many of whom would love to pet me or interact with me in some way.
But some guidelines should be followed. And expectations for proper etiquette when encountering a service dog. Both for the safety of me and for my mom.
Now you are probably wondering how our safety could possibly be endangered if you bother me. With my job, I need to stay focused on my mom. Listening carefully for her cues so I know what to do. And be observant of what she needs.
If I am distracted by you touching me or talking to me I might miss an important cue. Or stop midway while I’m executing a task. These could interrupt the fluidity of our work together. Or cause a door to bump my mom if I let go of my tug rope too soon.
As you know, my mom loves educating others. And helping them gain a deeper understanding of the important ways a service dog can enhance the independence of a person with a disability. Especially sharing the many ways I give my mom greater independence.
This blog is one way of educating. But it is not always readily available for people to gather quick info, like proper etiquette for interacting with me. So my mom created some fun postcards that we can give out to people we may encounter throughout our day.
The front of my postcard!
On the front side, there are some photos. Ones that show a few of the tasks I do for my mom. Because people are always curious about how I help her.
On the other side of the postcard, there is some info about me and my training. And one of my favorite photos of me with my mom!
Here are the highlights from my card where I share with you how you can have a very special job, too, and help make my job easier.
- Do not pet me unless you ask if it is okay.
- Do not call my name or tell me what to do.
- Do not feed me treats or any type of food.
- Do not run towards me or jump at me.
- Do not yell or make distracting noises.
I know it is hard for you to not pet me. My beautiful yellow fur looks soft and would feel good against your fingers. And you know I would love a treat. But I can only have food that comes from my mom. And talking to me is equally hard for you to resist doing. I am friendly and have big brown eyes that look adoringly at you.
But I am doing a very important job of helping my mom. Please help make my job easier by letting me do my work. Without added distractions from you.
The back of my postcard!
Although you can talk to my mom if we aren’t actively involved in a task. And ask questions about me. Or even ask if you can shake hands with me.
But please don’t be disappointed or upset if she says no. Sometimes we are in a hurry to get to an appointment or other commitment. We don’t always have the extra time to stop and visit with you.
When we are out in public places, there is often a lot going on around us. Things that could be distracting. Maybe kids are jumping and playing nearby. Or people chatting and laughing. Maybe clattering shopping carts. Or people eating. There can even be food on the floor.
All of these things I need to ignore. And stay focused on my job. Which I have been trained to do. My mom and I sometimes seek out distracting environments so I can practice good behavior. This keeps my skills sharp.
So even if people don’t always follow the proper etiquette they should when they are around me, my mom uses it as a training opportunity. It is a chance for her to work with me on maintaining my focus. And a way to share with the person just how they should behave when they encounter a working dog.