It always seems a little strange to see a dog in a restaurant.
Yet from time to time a dog walks in and takes a seat next to a table.
Of course, they are always accompanied by a human handler.
And they’re always on the larger side of things.
You also see them on buses, in stores, and all sorts of places that normally don’t allow dogs.
These are not examples of the world going to the dogs.
These are service dogs.
And they are busy at work doing the particular job for which they were bred and trained.
There are a few things that everyone needs to know about these animals, even if you never
need to have one as an assistant.
Here are a few of those things, in no particular order:
Do Not Approach When Working
There is no diplomatic way to approach this topic.
If you only take one thing from this piece, let it be this:
Service dogs are doing a real job, and are not there for your amusement.
Do not approach, speak to, or attempt to pet a service dog.
Even if it doesn’t look like their doing anything, they most certainly are.
The surest way to know is by the fact that you see them at all.
They likely wouldn’t be out and about if they weren’t working.
“Beyond that, the clear sign that a service dog
is working is that they will be wearing some type
of vest or harness declaring their status.”
Even if you have a small service dog, it still needs to be wearing a working vest.
A small service dog vest is available, and must be worn at all times when at work.
There are no exceptions to this rule.
When you see a service dog wearing a vest, don’t even bother to stare.
They’re busy, and should never be distracted by strangers satisfying their curiosity.
The Different Types of Service Dogs
There are different kinds of service dogs.
You are probably already aware of guide dogs, commonly known as seeing-eye dogs.
But that is only the beginning.
Here is a partial list to get you started:
• Guide dogs
• Hearing dogs
• Mobility dogs
• Seizure alert/response dogs
• Psychiatric service dogs
• Autism dogs
Don’t mistake this for an exhaustive list.
This does not include therapy and emotional support dogs.
Some do police and emergency work.
While others represent the only transportation in parts of Alaska.
Rescue dogs can pop up anywhere.
The St. Bernard keg is a total fiction.
But it is a fiction based on the real work of rescue for which they were bred.
Service Dogs Have a Right to Be There
Wherever “there” happens to be, service dogs have a right to the space.
Your allergy to dogs, or dislike of dogs, or general desire for dogs not to be there,
even if it is in your place of business, does not trump the right of the service dog
to be there.
According to ada.gov:
“Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), privately owned businesses that serve the public, such as restaurants, hotels, retail stores, taxicabs, theaters, concert halls, and sports facilities, are prohibited from discriminating against individuals with disabilities. The ADA requires these businesses to allow people with disabilities to bring their service animals onto business premises in whatever areas customers are generally allowed.”
There is an awful lot about service dogs that you will likely never know.
They can be staggeringly expensive.
They can lose their skills, and have to be retrained.
That retraining is not always possible.
They should never be regarded as mere pets.
They are as highly trained as any professional.
Proper performance of their duties is a matter of life and death.
They are truly spectacular creatures.
There is plenty more to learn.
But what you really need to know is that a service dog should not be approached or distracted
There are many types of service dogs beyond those that aid the blind.
And they absolutely have a right to be there, wherever “there” happens to be.
Do you use a service dog?
Or do you know someone who uses a service dog?
Share your thoughts or comments with us.