Sorry, Nothing Personal, But keep your hands off my dog!

There are times when one is forced to make decisions which might  not please one’s friends. I’ll be more specific. I have rapidly developed a good, friendly relationship with a number of people at my church. A recent article in the UU (Universalist Unitarian) newsletter generated many enthusiastic responses. It was a profile about me (and Opal).  As a result, people are talking to me, realizing that I am approachable, fetching coffee during fellowship time, AND PATTING MY GUIDE DOG!!!!  Worse, I am was allowing them to get away with it! Sorry, nothing personal, but keep your hands off my dog, please!!! Here’s the thing. Guide dogs are off limits when they are wearing their harness.  When Opal and I are not in motion, it does not mean that it’s OK to pat her. Just because you know me a little better (some of you actually becoming my friends), this does not mean that you have suddenly been granted an exemption from this rule. You may think it is harmless to come over and cosy up to Opal for a minute with or without my permission. It is not. Here’s why. Opal MUST know that when she is in harness, she is working. Socializing is out of the question. Consider that she is very fond of you (Opal is fond of EVERYONE) and you give her a little pat every now and again when we are at church when she is not actively guiding me.  Then, one day,  you meet us as we are crossing an intersection and she wants to greet you (because, hey, it was OK when I greeted you while wearing my harness last Sunday at church, she thinks)… get the picture? It’s not fair to bend the rules. Guide dogs need consistency in their lives. My error was not nipping this in the bud immediately. Mea culpa. Now hear this! Please do not pat my Guide dog when she is working (WEARING HER HARNESS) any more. Do not ask me if you can. I will refuse… and I don’t care if you are offended. If you ‘don’t get it’, too bad. You should. 

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12 responses to “Sorry, Nothing Personal, But keep your hands off my dog!

  1. Hello LabLady,

    I am writing to say that I appreciate your voice in your article “… Keep your hands off my dog!” I think it is good to hear directly from a person who has a guide dog because people need to understand that their actions towards the dog can affect you too. I addressed your article on my blog: puppyaday.blogspot.com and supported your wise advice. Please take a look at my site and feel free to comment on any article, especially the one about guide dogs. Thank you for your insightful article and I hope things go well for you and Opal concerning this matter.

    Sincerely,
    Katelin

  2. Hi there Katelin,
    nice blog you have. Thanks for putting the word out.
    Helen and Opal (aka Lablady)

  3. I actually was spoiled by my first dog I trained. He was a role model when it came to people petting or even talking to him. He never gotten out of focus and people thought he was non social. LOL. Wish I could say the same with my boy now. He’s way too friendly and is a magnet with people wanting to pet but mostly talk to him.

    It does really get on my nerves at times too. I actually prefer them to ask me if it’s OK then just to assume. Reason is that I know what is going on. A couple of weeks ago I went off on a parent because of the petting. It wasn’t the fact that his child came and pet without asking. It was the fact that the father said it’s OK to do so. Grrrrrr! I was really angry, frustrated and I showed it. The only thing is that it wasn’t good for my SD nor me! As they do feel our emotions. Using Ignore for the child wouldn’t have gotten the point across.

    However now I am getting more talking to my dog then the petting. I just had to educate an employee which she educated me as well. She told me that their manager told them it’s OK to talk the a sd but not pet. So off I go to write to this corporation telling them to please educate there blue collar employees better. This employee didn’t even want to take my flyer in which tells how to interact with a service animal team.

    Though I must tell you I get great pleasure when I hear an educated child tell off their parents, guardians or people in general when they pet my service dog. LOL. Just today a lady asked what my dogs name was. Well I do not give a different name but I do not give the complete name. She then said it’s nice to me you to my dog and then the fellow next to her said you are not suppose to talk to a service dog as they are working and you will distract them. She did apologize and was not aware of such things but said it does make sense if she would have thought. LOL. Love when others tells people for I know we are educating the general public one person at a time.

    Most of the time we have to do what is best for us but most importantly for our service animals even if that means getting some people mad at us when we say No! Even having a sign saying do not pet, many people just do not read it or do not comprehend it.

  4. I used a “don’t pet me, I’m working sign” with Opal in the first months we were together…two problems; for some reason, many people assumed she was TRAINING. that irritated me to no end! One guy actually mis-read the sign and told me (after I said, “hey, can’t you see the sign?”), that he thought it said…”Please pet me…”. He was not kidding, just ‘one brick short of a load’, you might say! The other problem was that the sign was secured by velcro onto the handle and kept sliding down a bit and interfered slightly with the feeling I was getting through the handle.
    thanks. Helen

  5. My sign is snapped to his backpack but it didn’t really stop many people that will pet anyways. Though children would read it outloud! I use to say don’t pet my dogs because they are working and all that. But I found by working a cue with my dogs also worked positive with people too. I now use the Ignore People! As my cue for my dogs to re-focus on me. I found out at the same time that when people heard that they too backed off and also apologize too. So I gotten the results that I really wanted people not to pet or talk to my dogs.

    I cannot say that it bothers me when people ask if I’m training him. I would though ask why they ask. Most of the time they would say you are doing a wonderful job. It’s a good way to promote the fact that people with disabilities are capable of training their own dogs. Great PR! Then if I have the time I would say even though dogs graduate and become service dogs they never ever stop with their training as there is always something new to be taught! Usually they come back and say they never thought of that before and how they wish their dogs would behave as well as mine. That always makes me laugh!

  6. Hmmm. Backpack? Does your dog cary much? I think Opal’s got enough to do already. I’m the one with the backpack. I also don’t make her ‘shake a paw’ and other idiotic pet dog tricks. Nor do I expect her to keep track of my things at home. However, I do insist that she pick up her own toys!

  7. My boy is a combinational service dog (guide, mobility, alert/respond ~ dizzy spells) which a backpack is a piece of equipment that I need. And no he doesn’t carry too much though you may think he does with all I will say he has in his pack. LOL. He carries our meds. Medical cards which includes if for some reason we are separated who to call, what he eats and when, etc. A small first aid kit, the flyer’s for educational about 10 is the most. A collapsible water bowl, some money, ID, and keys. And most importantly poop poo bags. lol

    I agree with you about those silly tricks that people seem to put their dogs through! Nope I don’t really have any of my dogs sit and give shakes though they will sit and at times give the paw into a smacking you routine to get you to play. Though I do like getting the paw but mostly to inspect it. It’s easier then me getting on the floor and then getting up.

    At home settings it’s more relaxed then when we go out, however I do need my boy to be alert enough at all times for my special needs, such as getting up (bracing), open and closing doors, etc. As well as ringing the bells on the door when he needs going out. Makes it easier for me to know when and be alerted to. Also I have some quiet times in which we are separated so this way none of my dogs will end up having separation anxiety issues as so many service dogs end up having after awhile. Always trying to think ahead. lol.

    So is Opal putting away her toys? I do not have to worry about that as he doesn’t play with toys though loves playing hide and seek or just running back and forth.

  8. Hello Helen and Opal,

    Just wanted to let you know how much I enjoy your blog and that I have added it to my Blog Roll! Thanks and hope things are well.

    ~ Katelin

  9. And I was just wondering if you could add me to your’s 🙂 Thanks!

    ~ Katelin

  10. OK. done!
    Helen

  11. That’s what you get for having such a cute dog. Maybe you should put a spike collar on it, make him look like a meanie.

  12. Hmm. I think there’s something about ‘no spike collars’ in the guide dog do’s an don’ts manual.

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