As a professional trainer, no matter where I go, I can spot a dog a mile away. So when I go to the local coffee shop and spot a dog in a no-dog zone, it makes me question why. The natural response is “Service Dog?” however the normal signs were not there. Odd harness, not service dog vest, a dog bed provided by the owner and the dog looked uncomfortable and scared.
So, my normal personality as it is, I headed upstairs to check her out. She looked like a large version of a hairless dog, almost Egyptian. As I approached her and her owner, the dogs demeanor changed and I could feel a rush of insecurity and fear come STRAIGHT from the dog.
I asked the question to the dog to hear the owners response. “A service dog here without her vest huh?” The owner responded that she doesn’t need a vest. I asked what kind of dog she was and he mentioned that she was from Cambodia. That explained the coat, hairless and starved(thinner) look. However, that didn’t explain the dogs reaction.
Service dogs when trained properly should show no nervousness, almost no emotion when on duty. They should lay at rest when the owner is not at motion and when going into public places where it is a no-dog zone, they should have identification to help those around them know they are on duty, are not to be approached and they are working.
I didn’t push the issue, however, found the following observations interesting. After sitting down two tables away, I noticed a couple interesting things that showed me that this was possibly an “Emotional Support Dog” rather than an official service dog. It could also have been used as a dog to help with P.T.S.D., however there still should have been something to suggest this when it in public.
After I walking away, the dog seemed agitated. I could feel the unsettled nature of the owner and the dog. The dog paced, moved positions, went for food crumbs on the ground following with anxious yawning. After about 5 minutes, and the owner trying to help the dog “relax,” the owner then placed the dog directly on his lap! The dog stayed there contently for a couple minutes and then returned back down to the dog bed and then eventually laid in a down position with its head off the bed. It ignored the peanut butter filled Kong and toys around it.(Also things that an official service dog does not need. When “working” they don’t have their toys used unless as a reward for a job. Usually there are no treats or food as their “job” is the reward.)
I do know that my presence can cause intimidation at times and cause insecure dogs to go opposite directions, however an official Service dog should not have had any issue with me approaching and certainly shouldn’t have had any issue in a public place…
So…this is definitely an interesting experience to take note of. “Emotional Support Dogs” are a new way for owners to “classify” their dogs to bring them into public places. with them and most owners can receive a written excuse from their doctor stating they need it. They can also print off a “document” online stating that it is an ESD, however it is not an official service dog and should not be taken in public places without proper identification and training. This only encourages others to do the same thing and is pretty insulting for those that have official service dogs.
I had to jet for an appointment, but when I returned I asked about him. They asked him about the dog his first visit and were told that she was a service dog. They are looking into it further. Believe me, I LOVE seeing a dog in a public place. It makes me feel at home!
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