Service dogs are more and more popular among the Veteran population. They are using them for many different purposes: blind, amputees, depression, anxiety, and PTSD. While there are many more out there people still don’t know how to treat service dogs when they see them. Here is the short and simple of this blog: LEAVE THE DOGS ALONE! THEY ARE NOT YOUR PET, THEY ARE WORKING!
See short and sweet.
But wait… There’s more…
I am a recipient of a service dog, Jax. He is an American Terrier / Bulldog mix. He is a beautiful dog. He is smart, happy, and he is friendly. And he is a working dog. He works hard at being on task, but is still young so he is distractible at times. Yesterday, we (Jax, family, and myself) were walking through Costco, and I for whatever reason was on high alert – things that happen to Veterans with PTSD, sometimes, but that is why Jax was there with me. My wife needed to get some pictures printed and as we walked by the always polite DirecTV, he asked if he could pet the dog. Mind you my dog has a vest that says, “SERVICE DOG.” I politely said no, and continued moving. Jax was fine.
I was impatient because my anxiety was in overdrive so I left my wife at the picture station, and I took the children and Jax with me to continue our grocery shopping. Knowing full well my wife would catch up. As we are walking around the produce section another lady reached down to touch Jax. I had to pull Jax away from her because he wanted to sniff her because she was petting him, taking him off task.
We get over to the area where the soda is, a small child – maybe three or four years old, comes running at Jax. Thank goodness I had him at the stay position as I was grabbing a case of Dt. Mt. Dew. Finally, Sarah, my wife, came back and was able to help with Jax not getting distracted as much. Jax really loves my wife, for all the times she says that he is my dog (which is true) he loves her as much as me. We finally get through all the aisles that we need to get through, including the check-out line. We decided to get some lunch at the delicatessen and as we were getting our drinks at the fountain a guy was there taunting Jax. Taunting.
“Hey boy… Come here boy.” Clicks his tongue.
Jax ignores this man.
“DOG. Come here.”
Jax again ignores.
At this point I am seething, and tear away from the soda fountain.
Finally out of the store, we get back in the car, and Jax is exhausted – more than normal; why? Well that is easy. Jax is a working dog. He is a service dog trying to help with my anxiety. He does a great job with that, but he is also working. He is working hard. He can’t pay attention to everyone that is talking to him. He is not supposed to. He is only supposed to listen to me, his handler. This makes him exhausted. He knows what he is supposed to do, but is always being tempted. He has to stay on task. Just like soldiers – have to stay on task. This is his job, his mission.
So again. The moral of the story:
LET THE SERVICE DOG WORK! LEAVE THEM ALONE!!
Yes, they are cute, but they are preforming a task. If you see a vest on them that say’s SERVICE DOG on it, then leave them alone!
Until next time: