This field trip was to Seaport Village. Savannah and Vince, Bud and his handler and her husband, an apprentice trainer named Judy with her own service dog Daisy, and a different apprentice trainer named Kellen all came.
This day of handler training was great for practicing working with Dyson in stores. There were a lot of tight aisles, so I had to make him get down on the floor in the least obtrusive spots.
Every once in a while in public I give him water in his foldable water bowl. Although some stores are known to put water bowls out, I’m not allowed to let him drink from those because some diseases can be passed through drinking water. Mom has been carrying a water bottle for Dyson the last few days, but I will start putting his water in his pouches for him to carry. I try to make both sides of his pouches about the same weight so that Dyson doesn’t feel lopsided. One pouch has his things, like his water bowl, poop bags, and doggy wipes, and the other pouch has my things, such as my meds.
All of us went into a body store with items such as soaps and body scrubs. I tried out a lemongrass hand scrub and body oil. It made my hands so soft! I looped the leash around my body like I do in public bathrooms to wash my hands. Dyson stayed on the floor quietly the whole time. He’s a good listener.
We also passed some ducks and adorable ducklings. Dyson ignored them well. Someone jogging by lost control of their Great Dane for a minute and Dyson still remained under control.
In a bookstore, I had numerous encounters with people interested in Dyson. One guy made a come over here hand signal to him. Dyson ignored the person like he was supposed to. Then, within just a minute or two I had three people talk to me about my dog. One woman kept asking questions over and over, thinking that rewording them would somehow allow her to pet my working dog. The next two were guys. One of them asked some basic questions. The next kept getting confused about why Dyson had a rigid handle on his harness. I tried to look busy (which I was) and skimmed through a book, but the people kept asking more questions. I’ve been being polite and trying to answer people within reason, but I know it’ll get more frustrating as time goes on. I shouldn’t have to respond to personal questions about my medical history just because someone is curious. I don’t mind the passing “what a good dog” or “he’s so handsome” comments, but it’s hard when people ask me questions when I’m dizzy and hurting and just trying to get through the day. I know that people are fascinated by service dogs, but they could easily learn about them by doing a simple google search. Maybe I’ll write up a post about proper etiquette when interacting with a service dog handler. I’ll probably make some business-card-sized info cards to hand out to people that start asking me a lot of questions. I could include responses to frequently asked questions or inaccurate comments that people in my online service dog groups say that they get frequently. These could include:
- What’s his name?
- How old is he?
- What breed is he?
- Why can’t I pet your dog?
- Is he in training? How good you are to help train a dog for the disabled!
- Are you blind or deaf?
- How can I make my pet dog a service dog or buy him a vest so that I can bring him everywhere? (short answer: you can’t; you don’t have a disability)
- Did an organization train him?
- What’s wrong with you? You don’t look disabled.
I might also provide a link to this blog on the cards so that people can learn more without me having to explain the same thing numerous times a day.