You meet all sorts!

Most guide dog owners know that when your out and about with your dog, you meet all kinds of people who sometimes say and do the strangest things. Here’s a few situations I’ve encountered during the last week.

Last Tuesday my cousin and I went to Lydl to get some food to make lunch. We met a friendly woman who stopped to talk and to talk about how nice O J was etc, the usual conversation. She told me that she had a black labrador that looked very like him when he was younger. It was a great dog and she was mad about it, and it died. I asked her when it died, and she said:

“It died this morning.”

Awkward! What was I supposed to say after that?

As we made our way towards the counter I heard a little child saying, “mammy I nearly petted it”, obviously talking about O J. She was coming behind me and O J kept walking so he mustn’t have noticed. Then the mother said, “just run up and touch its tail really really quickly.” I told O J to walk straight on, making him speed up towards the counter. I was so annoyed, not because the child or the mother didn’t ask if they could pet him, but because the mother encouraged the child to touch a working dog, acting as if myself or my cousin weren’t even there.

While we were paying for our things, a small girl came up and asked if she could pet O J, and I told her that of course she could and that she had lovely manners to ask first. I just wish that other mother had been behind me.

Today I walked to town with my parents, O J and Dougal. As I was coming near the beach I met a woman with a big dog, which got very excited when it saw O J. He was excited too but I encouraged him to ignore it and walk on. The woman said, ”’oh, my dog just wants to say hello’, and I explained that O J was working and couldn’t play with other dogs because it would distract him. The main reason that I did this was because she made no effort to take control of it or stop it from blocking our way as we walked. About five minutes later we had to walk past the same dog again, who ran at O.J making him yelp. I thought he had maybe bitten him, but my dad told me that he had a muzzle on, so they must have just banged heads or he put his paws on O.J and frightened him or something. The same woman didn’t appologise or even acknowledge that anything had just happened.

Meeting her today made me really question how much adults honestly know about guide dogs. Is it presumptious of guide dog owners to think that everybody knows what that harness means? Do people like her not care, or do they genuinely understand the purpose of a working guide dog? Maybe we as guide dog owners still have a lot of educating to do, and it shouldn’t just be taught to schoolchildren in the classroom.

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11 thoughts on “You meet all sorts!

  1. I think most adults do not know what a working guide dog looks like. When I'm out with Moxie and he is in his puppy in training jacket people assume HE is a working guide dog. If I'm wearing sunglasses people get out of the way like they are dodging cars, which is awkward. I think most people think bright vest equals guide dog and the harness is just a dog. It's very frustrating!

  2. Well, the first encounter with the poor woman that lost her dog must have been awkward enough. I just think for what its worth that people don't care. I had a situation in an air port where I had to get cross with parents of children because they wouldn't keep them sitting down on the chairs while waiting to get on the plane and at least 3 of them, I would say probably under 8 came crowding around the dog trying to get his attention. I turned around and asked them to call them away. They hadn't even bothered to ask me and it was only then that the father got up and came around and just took them away with not even an appolagy. No matter how much awareness you try and provide you are always going to have idiots or just people that are nuisances.

  3. I agree with your last statement. I am fortunate to live in an area where people are generally very respectful and know the rules about not distracting working dogs or petting without permission. I love hearing parents gently explain to their children that Gilbert is a working dog or at least tell them they must ask me before petting him. Even so, I will occasionally have to deal with people, and I shouldn't stereotype but I can tell by their voices that these people are often older people, who will talk to Gilbert in the doggy/baby voice when he is cleary working, or who will let their dogs come up and say hi. So I agree that more education about service dogs is needed, especially for the older adult population.

  4. Its funny how much we take for granted and how something very obvious to us, like a dog wearing a harness means nothing to other people.I wrote that yesterday for the sake of writing something, and to take my mind off other things, so thanks for the comments, and its always good to hear other people's stories.

  5. Jesus "just run up and pet his tail"? What?That's really bad about the woman with the dog.. When our dogs are working, they should not be encouraged to play. Could you imagine being dragged across the road because your dog wantss to "say hi" to another dog whilst working?I'm glad that OJ wasn't injured. At least the owner had the sense to muzzle the dog which was a good thing. A woman the other day only came up to get her dog after it came towards me and ushi. I am still very nervous of other dogs coming up to us, so that wasn't so good. She did appologise and that was fine, but I think that if you have a dog in your garden you should at least keep their dog locked behind a gate. Thankfully it was a friendly dog.I also had a woman who came up to me and asked me my name etc. She was then like "how long have you been… i'm sorry i'm interfeering" then she went to walk away. I just said that i was blind from birth and that she wasn't interfeering at all. She then said "so you're coping well then?" then tapped me on the shoulder and said "Take care now". She must have thought i would disintigrate if she said the word blind!Sorry for the long post. Xxx.

  6. Hi Y'all,I've done several posts on my blog about "working dogs". I did a recent series about patting dogs you don't know. In that series, I think it was the third post, I mentioned it was even more important not to approach working dogs. Reading through the comments I got, I found it isn't uncommon for there to be multiple reasons why someone would not want their dog patted. One person said it was as rude as coming up and "patting my purse, assuming I had a purse someone would want to pat". I never thought that someone might not recognize the harness as a sign of a working dog. As for being afraid to say the word "blind", it must be something about human nature. I notice people are also afraid to mention a deceased spouse to the surviving one or use the word cancer aloud around someone with the "C word" or "big C" (both terms I hear whispered). Y'all come by now,BrownDog's Human

  7. Every time I go out with my Guide Dog Ellie I get similar experience with kids wanting to pet her while we are working. Sometimes I say yes and sometimes I say no, especially if I just want to get out of a noisy/busy environment. Scary! – I'm glad the other dog had a mussel on and what is with some people not controlling their dogs. I wish there was like a mandatory training or license that people need to have before they get dogs. We've been warned that attacks on guide dogs are becoming more frequent. I'm a bit worried. But we typically don't go around in busy places or cities.Amy and Ellie from UK

  8. I must check out those posts brown dog!Hi Amy. Welcome to the blog and thanks so much for leaving a comment. I allow people to pet OJ too depending on my mood and how busy I am and on the type of environment I'm in. If drunk people ask, I always tell them that he is working!

  9. Can't believe that woman on the beach Jen! People can be so thoughtless when they are out with their pet dogs!We were at a funeral yesterday and with Clive as he knew the person who had died really well and had actually been great in comforting that person over the past few weeks. Even in the church where Clive was obviously in jacket and working – I couldn't believe how people petted him and tried to get his attention (particularly older people too!) and during the service.Then again I couldn't believe how people came into a funeral mass with their mobile phones switched on and let them ring (all young people!!)Hope all is going okay with you.take careFiona and gang

  10. I took OJ to the meal after a funeral last week and he was constantly getting petted. It was like everybody wanted something to cheer them up so kept coming towards him. I could understand this but it got a bit frustrating when I was trying to eat.

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