Every day we get asked the same questions, some silly, some weird, some that just boggle even the best problem solver.
Now I bet all the humans out there wonder the same things, such as, “How can a little dog be working?” “Oh he’s too cute!” “Look at that puppy!”
I might be cute and cuddly looking, but when I’m working that’s that. My world is my human from the time I put on my vest till we get home. So every time you want to snuggle me or tackle me for hugs, ask!
That’s the number one rule for service dogs and all other pups, Ask, ask, ask! We don’t advertise our humans illnesses, so please be considerate of the hard work we do. For some of our two-leggers, it’s a trial just to go to the store.
Secondly, in the United States, there is no official registry for service dogs! I know, business people want paperwork, but the ADA doesn’t require it. This causes lots of problems and businesses being non-compliant. There are fines, misdemeanors and all sorts of legal trouble no one wants to deal with.
Did you know us SDs aren’t required to wear a vest or any identifying gear? It’s true! Just because an SD isn’t vested, doesn’t mean he/she isn’t real.
SDs are not perfect, I know I’m not, so unless you’re a water-walking dog or human, we can’t claim perfection. Expecting us to make no mistakes, to never have an accident, to never not perform at optimum is crazy! Really, when you go to work does your employer expect perfection, for you never to get sick, or cough, or need a potty break? (Sounds silly now that you think about it, huh?)
There are schools out there that train certain types of SDs, like the Seeing Eye (www.seeingeye.org/) which trains guide dogs. There are many different groups and organizations that provide training services out there, but that doesn’t mean all SDs have to come from a program. Many SDs are owner-trained, especially those who help mitigate psychological illnesses. These dogs are held in the same regard as those who come from the programs.
I’m owner-trained, and I do guide work whenever my human needs me too. Due to the damage to her eyes, she has no depth perception. I help by moving her around obstacles and identifying hazards. Never dismiss us do to size, we all work hard for our people.
Often we hear about dogs-in-training and when they are ‘done’. We don’t believe any SD is ever done with training. Sounds strange, I bet, but it is true. With SDs and even pet dogs, we have to keep reinforcing the skills we’ve learned. If we don’t use it, we’ll lose it.