They also ask who is with me if she isn't. They want to be able to locate the person in the store in case I (really them) need assistance. I am that person who goes in for coffee thinking I will be in and out in a bit but end up sitting on the floor, shelf or worse lying on the floor. This is due to my blood pressure bottoming out without warning. I have instructed them not to call 911 unless I am bleeding. They follow the ADA but I have shared with them what Carma does, what to do if they see her coming to them without me, and what to do if I need assistance.
My warning system is my poodle. Carma Poodale IS a TRAINED Service Dog. Carma Poodale is a medical alert service dog to be exact. She can alert me before something happens. She has also pulled me right out the door to the car making me leave my cart full of groceries in the store.
With all that being said, I want to share what NOT to do if you see a dog in a store that is not pet friendly.
If you are somewhere that does not allow pets and you see a dog walking with someone through the place please do NOT do the following:
1. Do not start pointing and yell out "Hey there's a dog!" - I know she is a dog. She knows she is a dog. The people that passed us know she is a dog.
2. Expect my dog to calm your child who is crying- There have been so many times I have been in a store and heard a screaming child. Once that parent sees me they start telling their child "look at the puppy/dog"
3. Say loudly "I didn't know pets were allowed here!"- They're not. Pets are not allowed. Carma is not a pet. She is a medical device that was trained to do the job that she does.
4. Follow a handler around asking questions like "how can I bring my dog in here?" ,"what is wrong with you?", "What does she do?".- We are trying to get our groceries, prescriptions, items we need. We are not there to answer questions on how to bring your dog with you or answer personal questions about our disability.
5. Follow us around telling us how you or someone you know registered their dog, cat, ferret as a service animal or how you have a service dog. The ADA states that only dogs and in some cases miniature horses can be service animals. There are no formal registrations for service animals. After listening to this person I see that it is only a "service dog" when they want to take it somewhere. It isn't trained and they purchased a vest and ID card off the internet.
6. Tell your child to go over there to pet the dog- NO just NO. We are not there for the purpose of being a petting zoo. We are regular people that have a disability who only want to do our shopping and go home.
7. Don't assume you can guess our disability. - Over the years I have learned to ignore people who follow behind me asking if their child can pet my poodle. I am trying to get my items so I can get out of the store. I have heard everything from "I think she is deaf", "she must have something wrong with her legs due to her limping" "Wonder if she is blind and deaf".
8. Don't get upset and start screaming at us because we refuse to allow you or your child to pet our service dog. - Yes, I have had people go off on me due to me saying No. You make yourself look like a fool in front of everyone watching. Once again I will repeat, my dog is a medical device that keeps me safe. She is not there to be petted. If you want to pet dogs please go volunteer at a animal shelter. Those animals would love the attention.
9. If you come in view of a service dogs and you are afraid of dogs, please do not start screaming on the top of your lungs. - Seriously, it has happened to me more than once. The last time it happened I was once standing at the service desk of a major retailer when a woman and her daughter came in. Carma was laying beside my feet while we waited for a manager. As soon as her daughter saw Carma she started screaming on the top of her lungs. Her mother stood there staring at me while holding her daughter. Everyone in the checkout lanes stopped what they were doing to see what this child was screaming about. I had to raise my voice over the screaming child to tell the mother to keep on walking past us. We were 20 foot from each other! I still don't know how they even seen Carma laying on the floor.
10. Make kissy noises, bark , let your child try to scare my dog, try to call our dog over to you or keep telling her how pretty she is.- Carma doesn't like kissy noises and she knows she is pretty. You don't have to keep telling her that. She is trying to do her job, she is ignoring you. My dog won't come over to you no matter how much you call her when she is working. She is a working girl that is serious about doing her job. This technique will not work with any trained service dog. Service dogs are trained to ignore you.
11. Don't do a walk by petting- Yes, I have had people who have walked by us numerous times and each time will run their hands over my dog. STOP IT! I don't want your hands touching my dog's hair. You could have just coughed in your hands and now your germs are on my dog, you may have picked your nose and your booger is now on my dog. Just STOP IT. I will catch you and I will say something to you.
I work hard to make sure my dog is clean and clean looking when we are in public places such as restaurants and stores. I spend hours a week brushing her and giving her a bath which is both a killer on my back and arms. Don't touch a service dog without the handlers permission.
When you see a service dog in a non pet store know that the dog is taking care of their disabled person. Please be courteous and allow us to shop in peace.