In honor of Pauline Phillips, the advice columnist Dear Abby, whom we’ve all turned to at some point when we seek to understand those around us and in turn better understand ourselves.
I’ve been a Service Dog for many years. My human and I go everywhere together and he feeds me well, scratches in that really good spot behind my ears and even wipes the sleep gunk from my eyes in the morning. My question is this: Why do strangers frown at my Do Not Pet tag? Do they really think that means my human can’t pet me? Like I never get any affection? How can I get them to see my shiny coat and sparkly eyes before they Tsk Tsk and reach out a hand? -Happy Dog
Dear Happy Dog,
Sometimes it seems that there are people who see the world as a glass half full of evil doers, requiring that the other half, containing themselves, must correct all evil doing with a Tsk Tsk. There are other people in the world who simply choose not to read tags and vest patches despite the bold red lettering. While you cannot change the first, there’s hope for the latter. Encourage your human to point out the tag, even to repeat its words aloud. If the stranger still won’t listen, suggest that your human use the NO voice he uses when you try to eat his sandwich.
I’ve been trained to focus on my work. Sometimes it’s difficult, like having to “Leave it” or “Walk on” when another dog wants to stop and have a good sniff – especially those feisty ones who don’t seem to notice that they’re at the end of their leash. It’s also super hard alongside the meat case at the grocery store. Still, I try. I don’t pounce on the clerks who stock the dog biscuits and I certainly don’t lurch toward a fellow shopper in the aisles or at checkout, cooing how cute she is, even if she’s adorable. And I’d never pat a stranger on the butt. Ever. Are these distractions part of my training? -Wanting To Do a Good Job
Dear Wanting To Do a Good Job,
First, let me congratulate you on trying to stay focused. We all face that challenge; It’s a human-eat-human world out there and though at times it seems as though life is going to the humans, we must treat one another dogmanely. Continue to focus on your work, for it is very important work that you do. A colleague of my human’s is a yoga teacher whose motto is, “It’s all therapy” (which, for humans, is like training). Treat each situation with dog kindness and you will be doing a good job.
Is it against service dog policy to wear a patch that says I Am Not a Pony. Serioiusly. People regularly make pony comments, ‘I’m big enough to ride’ and ‘Put a saddle on that pony.’ Ponies tend to be stubborn and ornery. I am quite obedient and docile. Not to mention that my human travels alongside me not in a saddle on me. Really, I’m a dog. A highly trained dog. – German Shepherd NOT a Pony
Dear German Shepherd NOT a Pony,
I hear you. I’m a Great Dane. Know that it’s said in kindness and continue to carry out your services with dignity. In other words, Leave it and Walk On.