When you are out and about with a service dog you get your fair share of interesting people experiences. While in Chicago last weekend I got the full spectrum of people experience. Don't get me wrong, most people are fantastic but there are the few that always make it interesting. I have found that they usually fall into one of the following categories:
1. The "My brother's girlfriend's uncle's roommate's cousin had a service dog" person
This person is trying to show how much they know about service dogs and will tell you all about the dog they knew distantly. They also question how you are training your dog and compare everything you are doing to the dog they knew.
2. The "OMG my dog looks exactly like your dog" person
Once that happens be prepared to sit and wait while they pull out there phone and scroll through all their pictures until they find a picture of their dog. More often than not, their dog will look nothing like your dog but you smile and go "oh yes they look so similar."
3. The person who tries to "discretely" take a picture of your dog
Taking pictures is fine but the more discrete people are trying to be the more likely I am to notice. When you are the only one bending down with their phone out make noises to get my dog to look, it isn't discrete at all. Funny part is, is if they asked to take a picture I am most likely to help them out and get my dog to sit and look right at the camera.
4. The person who wonders out loud what your dog is for
This person will loudly announce to the people they are with, "LOOK! A working dog. That person must be (fill in the blank)." The most likely fill in he blank is blind. The best is when I have both my service dogs with me and people wonder what is so wrong with me that I need two dogs.
5. The person who gets really close to your dog
There is always a person who gets as close as they can to your dog to read their vest. Sometimes they will even attempt to straddle your dog and bend down really close. Considering I am standing right there holding the leash and my dog is as close to me as they can be, the person could just ask but they seem to think I don't notice them hovering over my dog. If they do realize I am watching they will stand up really quickly and advert their eyes. Or turn to their friend and say "that is a service dog" but never once acknowledging me there.
6. The person who does a drive by petting
I can be walking or standing and there will always a be a person who reaches in to pet my dog. I have had people even reach across/ around me to get to my dog. Or they run up behind me and touch my dog's tail or butt then run off.
7. The person who comes over and starts petting my dog
They are in the middle of trying to pet my dog and then asks "oh can I pet your dog?" When I say "No, I am sorry he is working." They get offend and say something like "well he likes me" or "but he likes this." Usually these people won't stop petting until you either walk away or physically put yourself between them and the dog.
8. The person that claims my dog hates working
This is rarer than the above 7 people but every so often I get a person that says that service dogs hate their job and my dog doesn't want to be working. This is usually said as my dog is happily asleep at my feet or sitting their wagging their tail.
9. The person that thinks the vest automatically makes a dog a service dog
Many people think that because my dog has a vest on, that is why they are a service dog. They claim they are going to go buy a vest so that their dog too can go everywhere. I try to explain to them that with or without the vest my dog behaves and it isn't the vest that makes the dog a service dog. Usually they just think they are being really funny and that no one else has thought of this idea.
Like I said before, these people are usually the exception but boy do they make for some interesting conversations.