November 27th 2010 9:47 am
[ Leave A Comment ]
We've been in the store for at least a half hour. Gus has passed just about all the clerks that are on the floor. Many of them smile at him, a few stop to ask about him and about small service dogs. I have gotten good at auto-pilot answers. I know what they will ask even before they ask it. Because they all ask the same thing.
"What do little dogs do? I've never seen a little SD"
"Small dogs make wonderful service dogs for many different kinds of medical conditions. Many small dogs are used for diabetics or people with severe food allergies."
I've learned to allow for 20 extra minutes of shopping because of all of the stop and starts. All of the questions. Not only from clerks, but other shoppers. Gus has learned to sit in his sling carrier quietly, or do his best to stay as close to me as possible. People in a hurry often don't see him and he's almost been squashed by carts or stepped on many times. Everyone in a rush.
Usually after 30 minutes, or sometimes we even make it all the way to the check out counter.... It isn't until we've been in the store a very long time that the manger rushes up to inform me that pets are not allowed in the store. Sometimes they are polite about it, other times they are rude and accusing. How DARE I bring an animal into their store! I smile and flash Gussy's badge, show them his patches that are CLEARLY VISABLE on his vest and (when he's being carried) on his carrier. "He's a service dog in training. But thank you!" They usually smile and say okay. The rude ones say "Fine." and huff away. Usually glaring at me and Gus as we check out. Almost as if they want to catch him doing something un-service dog like so they can kick us out. Sometimes they stand behind the clerk checking me out and this stirs nervous chatter from the clerk.
"What kind of service dog is he training to be?"
"A medical alert dog."
"Oh. That's wonderful," glancing over their shoulder to the fuming manager.
"What does he alert for?"
And this is where I get uncomfortable. I know legally I don't have to answer. And in all honesty they aren't asking to pry. They are nervous and just a bit curious. But I don't want to tell them about my medical conditions or disabilities. But I haven't learned to dodge questions yet. I don't want to be rude, and when I'm out with my dog I try to be as polite and unobtrusive as possible. I try to smile and say thank you to anyone who helps me. Even if they are glarring at me and my little service dog who is better behaved than most of the children in the store.
"Medical alert dogs are used for many different conditions like diabetes, endocrine disorders, and epilepsy."
Usually that is enough. But the manger is still watching and waiting for Gus to mess up.
Gus doesn't falter. He sits at my feet patiently waiting or calmly lays in his sling while I check out. Even when the elderly woman sneaks next to me and starts petting him while cooing. Ugh. I hate telling old ladies they can't touch my adorable fluffy dog. It feels like eating cookies in front of small children and telling them they can't have one. But I smile and ask them not to pet him. Please, he is working. Sometimes they smile more and tell me what a good boy he is. Other times they look at me like that small child who isn't getting the cookie, and I feel like saying, "Just kidding. Pet him!" But instead I walk away.
November 19th 2010 12:18 pm
[ Leave A Comment ]
I need to get back to writing here!!
Gus and I flew to visit my sister last week. I'm a nervous flier, and usually require some heavy medication to manage it successfully. This time I had Gus, so I was hopeful that it would be less anxiety provoking for me.
He was a big help!
Checking in at PHX airport was quick and easy. They were very friendly! Going through security, I opted to undress him completely so that I could just carry him in front of me. I wasn't up for any pat downs or extra attention on our first flight. Security was a breeze! Redressed him and popped him into his travel sling on the other side and we were off for our wait. I was concerned about the 2 hour wait (they had asked we arrive 2 hours early). But it actually went by quick. I don't walk fast.
We checked in again at the gate to preboard. Again -- super easy. After that I bought my drink and snack, answered about a dozen questions from people, and then got Gussy settled on his blanket with a chew. By the time we got settled it was only a 20 minute wait until we could board.
I decided to sit in the window seat at the bulkhead (which for Southwest is the first row! Very nice). It was a good choice. I couldn't have my bag with me, but I didn't need it. I was concerned Gus would be worried or unsure about the take off part of the flight. But 5 minutes after I sat down he was snoozing in my lap. He slept the entire flight only getting up to check on me twice (he looks at me, licks my face, looks at me again and then laid down).
Everyone was impressed with him. He got many, many compliments on how calm and quiet he was, especially it being his first flight.
The ride home was similar. I did have a somewhat unpleasant experience with the first check in lady in Denver. She wasn't as nice as the PHX airport check in was. But everyone has bad days, right? Security in Denver was easy, too. No problems. And the second time around I had him ready to go through security before we got in line. That way it wouldn't hold anything up.
He was just as good as the trip out during the wait and the flight. This time he knew what was going on, though so fell asleep faster. He is such a good boy!
He did a wonderful job alerting me and working while at my sister's. He went out with me to a few places, and it was helpful to have him to remind me and let me know when things were off.
I got stopped quite a bit by people in the airport wanting to know about Gus and what he does for me. I actually didn't mind. People were interested in what he was -- breed -- and then what he does for me. They were all impressed that at 11 months old Gus was so well behaved and calm.
He did such a good job and I'm so proud of my little Wiggle!
See all diary entries for Gus|