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incident at the store

As I'm walking down the bra aisle in the store--moving with my hand on the dog's harness--someone stopped me and asked, "Can your dog be petted, or is she working?"

I said politely, "She's working right now." Inwardly, I wondered whether that shouldn't be obvious: a blind person with a dog in harness in motion down the bra aisle in a store... And this was not an elderly lady. Am I just crazy to think that it should be obvious that a dog in harness in motion in a store is, indeed, working? Or should I stop my bra expedition to allow the public to pet because they're curious? If the person thinks she might be working, what would be the question in that situation? I try hard to understand people's curiosity; but this situation I never understand. To me it is the equivalent of me stopping a person and asking if they can chat or if they're walking somewhere. If they're moving, they're obviously walking somewhere. I wouldn't stop them unless I needed something they could answer (e.g. do you know where xxx is?)

On a more positive note, someone else asked if I knew when Mother's Day was.


( 34 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 13th, 2008 03:23 am (UTC)
My parents both made SURE when all of us where out in public that we KNEW service dogs were off limits. Totally completely no if ands or buts. No asking, no options. . .nada.

And I never have. None of us have. We don't even ask.

The flip side of that was that if we DID want to approach the person with the dog, then it couldn't be because of the dog, we had to recognize THE PERSON.

In other words, they taught us basic MANNERS. A lost art, I think.

I'm sorry that happened to you today. But it's great the other person asked when Mother's Day is. . . lol. . can't miss THAT!! **GRINS** can you tell I'm a mom? Huh?!! **Wink**

Apr. 13th, 2008 03:35 am (UTC)
I wish there were more people like that! I had management try to kick me out of Walmart one night - I have a psych service dog/med alert dog
Apr. 13th, 2008 03:43 am (UTC)
I am looking for Jess's gear right now for service training. The laws for a service dog here where I live are very vague. I had to consult several organizations before I found out what is required here. I'm getting her tested and certified, but only for her protection, not because it is required.

I'm lucky, she's an ominous looking GSD, and people generally shy away from her. .. or ask if she bites. . .lol. . . .

That really surprises me about Walmart! Was the issue resolved?
Apr. 13th, 2008 03:17 pm (UTC)
I haven't been back there yet. Purposefully. I lost my vest that I had, but she was in control (of course) and nondisruptive, and I had my cards that state she is a SD and doesn't need ID and I had 4 seperate people stop me. Even as I was leaving the store. It's awful down here
Apr. 13th, 2008 04:57 pm (UTC)
I think I found somewhere on the net the steps to take if this happens to you when you are out with your service dog, since they are only allowed to ask you if your dog is a service dog, but nothing else. . . but the steps to take seem to be long and drawn out and the laws are not often enforced. Sigh.

I wasn't very satisfied with what I read. There doesn't seem to be much public education going on for employers to understand what their responsibilities are. I know I never had service training on it when I was employed. . .had plenty of training on sex discrimination and harassment, though!! **laughing** It should be taught at all service type businesses. .. and employers should be held responsible to teach it.
Apr. 13th, 2008 05:01 pm (UTC)
I used to work at Walmart and I know that part of the training is that you are told that service dogs are allowed and that there doesnt have to be blatant identification. I think that's what really got me going because I know what's done.

As I was leaving I had both "greeters" tell me that I wasn't allowed to have my dog there and I said yes I can she's a service dog and she said no you can't. I almost told her to go and call the police. I was soooo irate.
I was in the video/dvd section and the girl had gotten a call from the front management that I had to leave. So that wasn't her fault, she was just the messenger and I explained to her and then they had people track me through the store to try to scare me out. I was furious!!!
Apr. 13th, 2008 03:27 am (UTC)
Well, it's a start that they asked instead of just going for it, right?
Apr. 13th, 2008 04:06 am (UTC)
I suppose, but they still need to use their heads. Just going for it would not have gotten a polite reply since I was in motion. I realize you're trying to look at the positives here, but those kinds of positives really don't work for me. I appreciate it when people ask when I'm in a position where the dog looks like she might be at rest (e.g. I'm sitting on a bench waiting on a taxi and she's lying at my feet). I don't appreciate it while I'm walking and stopping to allow petting would be an inconvenience. That is a matter of common sense. Is my dog working? Of course, she's working. We're up and moving.
Apr. 13th, 2008 04:35 pm (UTC)
That's exactly what I was going to say. How many times have you (Sarah) complained about people just petting without asking or just saying, "ooh - can I pet your dog?" as they lean forward to do it before you can even answer. At least this person showed a bit of understanding in that the dog might be working.

Should she have used her head and thought, "well gosh, the dog is quite obviously leading this woman down the aisle - so she's obviously working"? Sure. But speaking from experience, as intelligent as I know I am, I also have plenty of "brain fog" days because of my Fibromyalgia. So there are times that the obvious isn't quite so obvious to me right then. You know? It's like I have some impediment to being able to think clearly. Like my brain is wrapped in cotton or something.

For all you know that woman may have Fibromyalgia or Chronic Fatigue and had been experiencing a bit of brain fog. Maybe she mentally kicked herself as soon as the words were out of her mouth. "Duh - you idiot! Of COURSE the dog is working! The woman isn't exactly lying around at home listening to music or something, is she?" or some such thing. You never know.
Apr. 13th, 2008 04:58 pm (UTC)
To be honest, sometimes I feel like I'm supposed to always understand and be patient with everyone else, but the reverse is never true--and I don't even have a right to write about my feelings in my own journal without being criticized for how I feel. *sigh* How would you feel if I criticized your reaction to something and effectively told you you shouldn't feel that way because you complain so much about it?
Apr. 13th, 2008 07:11 pm (UTC)
*sigh* You know, this seems to be a common theme between us, and it's really draining me emotionally, so I'm going to be really honest with you here. You frequently over-react to things I say & assume I'm criticizing you, when all I'm doing is pointing out the fact that sometimes things may not always be as cut and dried as you may see them or think they are.

That's one of my strengths. Ever since I was a child I have just always been able to easily see both sides (or potential sides) to almost every issue/circumstance. I used to annoy the heck out of my friends because maybe they'd be upset about how a teacher or one of their parents reacted to them that day, and I'd say something like, "maybe they didn't get any sleep last night" or "maybe they're in pain" or "maybe the teacher had a fight with his wife this morning and he's feeling grumpy because of it". That's just me - it's the way God made me and I don't see that changing. I don't really WANT to change this about myself actually - I see it as a gift from God. It really helps when trying to understand people and relate to them better.

So I am not criticizing you. At all. You are of course free to say whatever you want to in your journal. But since you open up what you say in your LJ to comments, I merely added my thoughts that perhaps there was more going on with that woman than you were able to ascertain in that split second of interaction. I think it's possible that you frequently over-react or are over-sensitive to things I say of this nature because you have issues with people talking down to you because you look young - as you have stated more than once in the past. (although that wouldn't be the case here, because I have never seen you in person - but that doesn't erradicate the issues within you & how you perceive innocent comments from others)

I also realize that your problems with pain and your sleep issues most likely play a large part in how you react to things. Which is why I haven't confronted this issue before now - knowing these things about you, and being able to empathize because I deal with many of the same issues you do, I have let it go many times.

But I just don't want to do it anymore. I have too many of my own issues to deal with to constantly feel like I need to apologize for sharing my thoughts or experiences with someone who (supposedly) considers me a friend. Friends shouldn't have to carefully "measure" every single word that comes out of their mouths - walking on eggshells - the way you make me feel I need to do with you. I can't just be myself, the way i am with everyone who knows me, without you perceiving my comments as criticism.

Last night we went out with a few members of Frank's family and some of their friends and I had a chance (for the first time in a few months) to speak to Frank's sister, who moved out of the house she shared with her husband and in with her mother a few months ago.

(continued in next comment)
Apr. 13th, 2008 07:12 pm (UTC)
comment part 2
She said that she left because it was a miserable relationship. It wasn't at the beginning, but over time, she realized that he was just a miserable person. He was extremely critical of others, including almost every member of her family. There was a "straw that broke the camel's back" situation that ultimately led her to say, "Ok, you know what? that was it. I can't do this any more." But she said that it had been building up to that for a long time. She couldn't find any happiness or peace in her own home. Work is crazy for her, so she really NEEDS to be able to have that happy, peaceful sanctuary she can retreat to at the end of every day. But she hadn't had that for years, apparently. Dealing with him just became too emotionally draining. She finally had to look at the situation honestly, she said. So in an act of self-preservation, she left. They're getting a divorce and she said she's never been more at peace. (considering the fact that she's living with her mother - who is one of the least peace generating people I have ever met - that's saying an awful lot about what living with him was like)

So much as I feel bad having to do this, I'm going to take a page out of her book. Now before you over-react again and think that I am indirectly saying that you are a miserable person, I'm not. But I do feel that you are overly-critical - so much so that you are now excusing yourself for your lack of patience, tolerance & understanding because you feel that you are the only one "expected" to display any. (which seems pretty far-fetched to me)

There are a lot of things I like and appreciate about you Sarah, but you and I have different life experiences. I had thought/hoped we could add a different "flavor" to each other's lives by sharing our own thoughts, perspectives & experiences with each other. But most of the time when I do, I am misunderstood and accused, not just by you, but some of your friends as well, of criticizing you and telling you what you should or shouldn't write in your journal or what you should or shouldn't feel. And I just don't have the energy or desire to keep defending myself. So I surrender. I'm figuratively waving the white flag. I honestly think we'd both be better off emotionally by removing each other from our friends lists.

I want to make it clear though that I'm not angry with you or reacting in anger. I'm actually sorry to make this decision, but I feel like I have to protect myself emotionally, and I'm also concerned about you feeling so criticized by me so often when you have other, more important things to be concerned with.

I leave with no hard feelings and I will continue to keep you in prayer. I wish nothing but wonderful things for you. May God bless mightily, Sarah.
Apr. 13th, 2008 07:32 pm (UTC)
Re: comment part 2
Should you ever want to come back, you would be welcome. What I wish is that instead of jumping to a conclusion about me or my reactions, you might ask questions about why I feel so strongly about things. I understand that you don't have the energy. But this is one of the things that makes me sad. Instead of trying to understand me, people end up telling me that I should be grateful for very small steps. There are things that I wish I could talk about, but I rarely get the chance because instead of talking about things that really matter I'm spending my time "educating" and saying the same things over and over and over. For the past 12 weeks, I've been hoping that the people who keep telling me, "We'll get together this weekend," might actually mean it this time. I've actually called and asked whether we were still on... My messages aren't returned. At church the next day, the same promise gets made... I smile and say I'd love to... And then I try to deal with the other 400 people who want to ask about the dog and walk off without finding out my name.

I'd like very much to consider you a friend. It seems that the only things we really know about each other are from our journals, and that's not a really fair representation. I can only be your friend if you take the time to get to know me as a person. But you are behaving toward me like a parent some of the time, and that doesn't work for building a new friendship.
Apr. 13th, 2008 05:14 pm (UTC)
Maybe this is true. Maybe she can't be "blamed" for asking an "obvious" question. But on the flip side, those of us with service dogs can't be blamed if we don't manage to be super patient and understanding every single time this happens. To me, there's a real difference when someone asks to pet when I'm not moving vs. when they ask and I'm walking, or obviously engaged in a task requiring my attention (like checking out at the grocery store). Both are a violation of my personal space. Sometimes, I'm understanding about this. Sometimes, I'm not. Asking someone to be outwardly OK with this every single time is unreasonable, and certainly someone's private journal is an appropriate forum to express frustration.
Apr. 13th, 2008 07:28 pm (UTC)
You are reading WAY too much into my comment. (but that seems to be the norm around here) I never said I expected anyone to be outwardly ok with anything every single time. I see nothing wrong with a quick, "yes, she's working" without even stopping. Or a "no, you can't pet her" and keep on going. Who said anything about the interaction itself? I was merely trying to point out, in dissecting the experience and its emotional impact later on, that maybe there was more going on there than was immediately apparent. Food for though as opposed to being so annoyed by it.

My point was about giving (most) people the benefit of the doubt. Maybe she was just flat out obtuse or stupid. But maybe there was more going on there, and it's important to keep that in mind when dealing with people. Especially for someone in ministry. Are we going to be able to be understanding and give the benefit of the doubt every single time? Of course not. We're only human after all. But in Sarah's looking back on the experience with annoyance (or whatever you want to call it), it shouldn't be something I'm criticized for when I suggest that there may have been mitigating factors to this woman's seemingly moronic question. So back off.
Apr. 13th, 2008 07:34 pm (UTC)
It also shouldn't be something *I'm* criticized for when I say that Sarah had a valid reason to be annoyed, even if there are mitigating circumstances. Do you know how many times each day we are presented with questions like this? It is totally appropriate for Sarah to deal with her annoyance by writing about it here. I do not mean this as a criticism of you. I simply disagree.
Apr. 13th, 2008 07:34 pm (UTC)
"with Sarah being in ministry"
You've pulled this line out before, and I just want to point out that ministers do sometimes need to have a regular life. Ministers are people with emotions, and they like to buy a bra in peace.
Apr. 13th, 2008 03:34 am (UTC)
Sadly people are incredibly moronic!! and its only getting worse
Apr. 13th, 2008 03:37 am (UTC)
you know, i read you writing about this so often, and i have to wonder where people's heads are. my kids are mad about any animal, and whenever we see a guide dog of any sort, we stress to the kids that it is a working dog and that we can smile at the dog, and comment to each other what a beautiful dog it is, but we cannot under an circumstances touch or approach the dog while it is wearing the working harness. i was taught that from a young age, and so was keir, and i have to wonder if that is something that is no longer taught in schools. it's not as if they are a rarity in society, nor are they something that is so unusual that people must stop and stare, and petting a working animal is definitely a no no in my book. my kids have even corrected other children, and in one memorable episode, an adult, who was walking up to a seeing eye dog without informing it's master. ugh.

i don't get it. do you have one of those jacket thingies that says please don't approach me i am working for your dog? it might be a good investment given the number of times you have had this happen to you. sorry- but that is one of my pet peeves in life- bothering working dogs. i could see being intrigued by the miniature horses and the like, but wanting to pet a harnessed dog is over the line.
Apr. 13th, 2008 03:57 am (UTC)
no petting signs
I may have to break down and try a sign. From what I hear from other dog users, it sounds like the people who read them are the people who already know not to pet... I'm really thinking more and more about the news article... I never remember having this much trouble with the general public in the past. However, I also had black dogs, and maybe it's different with black dogs vs. yellow ones.
Apr. 15th, 2008 03:12 am (UTC)
Re: no petting signs
one of our neighbors has a guide dog(he is blind) and has a shepherd or a shepherd mix, and was telling us one day last summer that he finally had to break down and buy a jacket/sign for his dog because people would always stop and pet the dog, and talk to him through the dog. he found that incredibly annoying. one of the reasons he stops to talk to us is that we talk to him, not his dog, and i give him flowers and cuttings to take home for his garden( i have a butterfly garden in the front, and he is trying to get his going, and he stopped one night while we were out roasting marshmallows if he could take cuttings, so we have struck up a friendship. i am going to miss him if we move.), but he is always amazed at how people will ignore him at crosswalks- even marked, stoplight ones, stop the dog to pet it, and apparently he had a dog stolen a few years back. i know that happened when we lived in illinois- a guy, also a neighbor of my parents- had a white shepherd that was beautiful- and someone stole the dog while she was outside while he was in and did not need her. it took almost a year for him to get another dog, and that was with fund raising and the humane society looking for a good match for him and all that.

i worry that i am going to need a service animal soon, and live in fear of someone trying to distract it. i am already fighting needing a wheelchair, and my neuro has brought up a service dog several times in the last few visits. i really wonder how people can be so stupid.

on a lighter note, i could knit you something- if you like......
Apr. 13th, 2008 03:20 pm (UTC)
I thank people like you who say that to their kids!! Unfortunately a lot of adults don't and sometimes the kids even have better manners.

The jackets/patches that say "I'm working" or "don't pet me" really are there in people's minds as decoration. They don't deter at all. In fact, it seems like they're more bold about it
Apr. 13th, 2008 03:39 am (UTC)
I am so sorry that people just don't think.

We had a moment last week that made me so proud. We went into a store, and there was a service dog. Wyatt (being 3) made a comment about it, and Amberielle explained to him that the dog was working, and the dogs job was to help the man. She also told him that they couldn't pet the dog since he is working (not that Wyatt would since he is terrified of dogs). She did such a good job explaining, that it made me feel really good.
Apr. 13th, 2008 04:01 am (UTC)
kids explaining
Elementary age kids really are the best at the no-petting stuff. At church they often correct adults and younger kids. I do a lot of talks for school groups, and we always end off with the harness coming off so they can pet when the dog isn't working.
Apr. 13th, 2008 04:15 am (UTC)
That's the kind of thing where I would have just said "Yes, she's working" and not even stopped to chat. People like that need to think before opening their mouths! Sheesh.
Apr. 13th, 2008 05:43 am (UTC)
I suspect your questioner was trying to show you how enlightened and/or sophisticated he/she was.

Prolly glowed over his/her sensitivity for at least fifteen minutes afterward. :)
Apr. 13th, 2008 10:20 am (UTC)
I never thought of it that way.
Apr. 13th, 2008 06:10 am (UTC)
No Petting Insignia
I have also heard the signs work well for the "no petting" bit. There are some people who are total dolts of course, but the sign can stop those who are "of the middle" of the spectrum.

I have two suggestions for you, or actually I'll make them into examples to make them easier to explain:

1) I have a patch on Tux's vest - it is rectangular, 2 inches tall by 4 inches long - on the left, it has a STOP sign, exactly as you would see on a street - then it has words to the right on two lines. The top line says, "Do Not Distract" and the bottom line says in all caps, "WORKING DOG". I have found this to be *highly* effective at keeping people off my dog.

2) In the past I have used (and got another idea from) a patch that was I think 4 inches high, yellow background with red border, stop sign shaped. On the top, it read STOP (new line) Don't Touch (in a curve), then it had a picture of a dog's head with a hand reaching for it in the middle and a red line through it to indicate NO. Below that design, on two lines, were the words "Service Dog." I had good success with this patch, especially keeping people off - but many people still talked to and clicked at my dog which I have not had the problem with with the Do Not Distract patch I talked about at first.

The second patch, the yellow one with the picture - is offered in a harness handle clip on design, and you could easily create the Do Not Distract Stop Sign patch into a harness clip on design, too if you were interested in doing that.

The other situation I wanted to suggest to you - is in some countries, people use a "cape" under their dog's leather guide harness to indicate it is a guide dog. Now coming from the States, I expect a harness to be all the identification needed, but the cape does give more information. The cape is a lightweight fabric, similar in weight to a t-shirt but not as cottonish, I don't think, and is printed with some words in the native language (which are symbols for the picture I saw) - you could easily get a cape designed, I think, that says Do Not Distract or whatever you wanted, and because you design it yourself, you can design it's images / logos / words to fit around how the guide harness fits your dog. We can talk more if you're interested.

Courageous Heart & Tux
Apr. 13th, 2008 10:04 am (UTC)
I really don't understand people. I can remember learning at an early age that dogs with harnesses, in stores, or anywhere else, are working dogs. You wouldn't interupt someone while they're doing an important job, why would you interupt a working dog. Like others have said, I don't know where their heads are. To me, this is very basic knowledge, and basic manners. There is a huge difference between someone being genuinely curious, and just being rude and not so smart.
As someone else suggested, it may be a good idea to get a sign. I've been in stores quite a few times, and seen these types of signs make people stop and pay attenion.

I'm sorry you have to deal with these types of things so much, it must be very frustrating.

Apr. 13th, 2008 11:32 am (UTC)
Everyone has given such great suggestions! I know it's frustrating. hugs
Apr. 13th, 2008 01:17 pm (UTC)
As a sighted person perhaps I can shed some light on the foolishness of people seeing a 'seeing-eye' dog.

In general sighted folks see canines as 'individuals' and thinking members of their families. The dog is allowed free will to be a member of the family usually without much control hence poor habits that people complain about develop. In truth seeing the animal mingle with its family does make for the attitude that it is a beautiful animal with feelings and such and so inspite of the foolishness these carelessly behaving individuals who are walking up to a working dog are actually paying a compliment.

People will not 'ignore' a dog. It is a person ;)

Perhaps at some point it would do better to openly talk to the person who approaches you and say 'thank you' for saying this about my dog. Unfortunately it really isn't a good idea to pet him/her during 'work' time but he/she does get all that dog affection later when at home out of harness and such. Yes we love him much :)

Many sighted people are under the impression that the dogs sometimes seem to be treated inhumanly cause they don't know better and there is no outreach to say differently.

I had a friendship with a blind woman, 'Carmen' and her dog 'Hozanna', a yellow lab. We were friends for many years throughout our college time at Hunter College and would eat dinner together every night before or inbetween classes. Carmen was my first association with an individual who was blind and also her guide dog. I learned much. 'Hozanna' liked me so much I figured out sitting not next to Carmen was best in class. The minute class ended Hozanna made a bee-line for me with Carmen which after a while Carmen realized wasn't a bad thing since the crowd leaving the class tended to be rough and dutifully ignored her....too much. Hozanna simply would lean against my leg to show her affection and wag her tail ...I would great her and then we would head out with guide dog doing her job yet somehow had managed a happy medium of public association.

Just some thoughts perhaps but i thought that might be helpful.

Sometimes...I miss Carmen AND Hozanna. They were a gas as a team :)
Apr. 13th, 2008 02:10 pm (UTC)
talking with people
As I mentioned up above, there are times when I welcome the opportunity to stop and educate people... This lady's wording indicated that on some level she knew the dog was working. And I was following someone else through the store... It begins to feel like an onslaught after a while, and the public face feels very much a strain, like you feel exhausted after trekking around all week. The way I feel when people do this stuff to me would be the equivalent of someone asking you, "Are you tired after running through the streets all day?"
Apr. 13th, 2008 10:06 pm (UTC)
I get so annoied when people want to pet my dog while I'm trying to do stuff. It's almost like just because we have a cute puppy, we're fair game, and that we can drop everything we do just to satisfy their uncontrolable desire to pet a cute puppy. I sometimes wonder if people feel liek we're not supposed to have lives, or if they think we're so desparate for friends that we'll talk to anyone. I'm sure that's probably not their intention, but it feels like that sometimes. I actually had to inform a lady once, who was rudely interrupting me while I was trying to listen to the person helping me pick out a brand of something, (I can't remember what at the moment), just to ask if Kerry was a lab. I just said, "Excuse me, I'm trying to shop." It's like the laws of manners don't apply sometimes.
Apr. 25th, 2008 05:46 pm (UTC)
Geez, it takes all kinds. And, they usually don't recognize their stupidity.
( 34 comments — Leave a comment )


Sarah Blake LaRose
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