After three-plus years, I continue to be taken aback when strangers see Sir Thomas and me, acknowledge that they’ve read the various Do Not Pet, Mobility Dog, Ignore Me I’m Working tags and patches and, yet, they still ask his name. Ninety-nine percent of the time, it’s a friendly request made out of genuine curiosity,
My hesitation in answering stems from that one percent who’ll then call out his name. It takes only once to distract him, leaving me to crash into the avocado display at the grocery store or face-plant onto the floor at the Delta check-in counter.
For safety’s sake, I often respond with a smile and a fake name. Today, while enjoying a breakfast-served-all-day lunch with my husband and our son, Tommy dutifully napped on his mat beside our table. A couple stepped in and as they passed by, I sensed their pace slowing.
“Aw.” I heard and knew The Question was coming. I couldn’t answer as I’d just taken a bite of my omelette.
The woman murmured to herself, “What’s his name?” She leaned in close and scanned his patches and tags for the answer.
“Ah, ” she said, standing back up. “Service Dog,”” she said to her partner.
“Service Dog?” she said again in a questioning, what-kind-of-name is that tone.
“Oh,” she said next. “Service Dog. Oh,”
They scurried off, leaving the three of us laughing over our eggs. Tommy went back to sleep.