I need to be on my best behavior when I go to a restaurant with my mom. Well, I need to be on my best behavior everywhere I go!
But a restaurant can present more temptations than some of the other places we go to. There are often crumbs on the floor, yummy smells, and lots of people nearby.
My mom and dad have always enjoyed going out to eat in restaurants. But since being with my mom we haven’t gone very many times. Are you wondering why?
Since being partnered with my mom, there have been a variety of different limitations imposed because of Covid. And dining in restaurants has been one of them. Now that things seem to be easing up my mom is hoping we can dine out more often.
You may remember that we went on vacation to Walt Disney World nearly a year ago. While driving to Florida we stayed overnight in a hotel to break up the long drive.
Dining at a Disney restaurant!
That evening we went to a restaurant for dinner. It was the first time in eighteen months that my mom and dad had dined out. And the first time for me dining out with my mom!
Even though it was our first time, my mom wasn’t concerned about how I would behave. This was because she knew that my puppy raiser had gone out many times with me. And had prepared me well.
So what should I do, and not do, while in a restaurant? And what is good restaurant etiquette for a service dog?
As we weave our way through the myriad of tables, on the way to ours, I need to stay close by my mom’s wheelchair. And keep focused on her.
I must not look at any of the people as we pass by them. Or sniff their food. Even though it is often at my eye level.
When we get to our table my mom looks to see where it might work best for us to sit. If possible, she picks the spot that will give me the most room under the table. And be the furthest away from the flow of where the wait staff and patrons will pass by.
Ideally, it is best when I can fit under the table so that I will be out of the way completely. But due to a number of factors, this doesn’t always work.
Sleeping under the table!
So if I’m not under the table where am I to go? Either right beside my mom’s wheelchair with my body against the wheels. Or partially under the table with my head facing outward.
Being yellow, I’m more visible than Buffy was. But wait staff are busy taking orders, delivering food, and checking on patrons.
They certainly aren’t looking toward the floor as they move about. So it is important for me to be out of their way. I wouldn’t want them to trip over me.
Oftentimes there are crumbs nearby or under the table. It would not be polite of me to scoff them up as we are walking to and from our table. Or while I’m underneath the table.
This has been one of my more challenging behaviors to master. But my mom and I practice often to keep me sharp. And so I will remember the importance of ignoring food or crumbs on the floor.
At home, I lay on a mat by my mom’s chair!
During the meal, I lay quietly in my designated spot. Sometimes. I curl up in a ball. But I never sprawl out. I most often fall asleep. And I never beg for food.
When we are finished and it is time to leave, I quietly stand up. And usually, stretch since I’ve been sleeping for a long time. I then want to shake my body to get myself all settled.
But if I were to shake while walking through the restaurant my fur would go flying everywhere. And people would look unfavorably on that.
So instead, before we move away from the table my mom has me go underneath and do a little shake. Just enough for me to feel better. But not too much since I don’t want to leave behind any fur.
In many ways, while dining in a restaurant, or any other public place, I should be invisible. That sounds kind of funny, doesn’t it?
Being invisible means I am calm, well-mannered, out of people’s way, and not seeking attention from others. As people observe us, they should see one team working together. Not two parts that are disconnected and all over the place.
The biggest compliment my mom loves hearing is “I didn’t know there was a dog in here” as we leave a restaurant or other public place. Because that means we did our job well. And danced as one!