One of the things that a lot of service dog handlers hate is when people pass their pets off as service dogs…
An old lady sticks her precious Snowball into a tiny service dog vest she got online. She takes Snowball out of the car when she parks at the grocery store. As soon as Snowball’s feet touch the ground, she runs into the middle of the street. Snowball’s elderly owner laughs and tells her to be quiet. The owner looks up and sees that Snowball is barking at a “fellow” service dog. Except this one is much larger and isn’t barking at Snowball.
Snowball’s owner follows the service dog team inside and all the while, Snowball is barking and pulling at the end of the leash. The service dog team tries to get away from them, but they always seem to pass each other. Eventually, Snowball’s owner is done and goes to get in line at the check out. She goes to the shortest line and guess what? The big service dog is in front of them in line.
The service dog handler turns around and sees that the little demon dog is behind them and begins looking around for a different place. Snowball is still barking and pulling at the end of the leash, and the owner is still smiling and giving Snowball all of the leash.
Snowball then gets close enough to start sniffing the big dog, the owner then says, “Aw! Looks like they are going to be friends. They have a lot in common since they both are service dogs.”
The service dog handler smiles, and doesn’t say anything. The service dog doesn’t do anything either. Snowball’s owner pulls back a little leash and Snowball starts to go into a barking fit. The service dog team in front of them starts gathering all their stuff and moves out of line. Snowball’s owner says in a low voice, “Well, they aren’t very friendly. It’s a good thing her big dog didn’t hurt my little Snowball.”
Snowball’s owner is next in line and has trouble writing the amount in her check book when the service dog team walks by.
I have had this happen more than once. It is very frustrating. Often times, the people that have their tiny Snowball’s dressed up as a service dog are old people. No one stops them because… Well… They are old and the dog probably helps them feel better. I’m sorry, but that is BS.
Another situation I often have at grocery stores or at the food court in the mall is…
Annie is eating with some friends and talking about what they are going to do that summer. One of her friends brings up that he is going to go to Nebraska to see his parents and nieces. Annie then starts talking about how her husband is going to take her to see New York for the first time. The only problem is that they don’t want to pay for their dog to fly in cargo or to board it.
Annie then sees a girl that has a service dog ordering pizza. They walk by their table to go sit at a table in the corner. Annie has thought about having her dog as a service dog, but she can’t find any vests around town. So, she gets up and approaches the girl and her mom and says, “Hi. I have a service dog and was wondering where you got the vest. I have been looking everywhere for them, but can’t seem to find any without having to order them.”
The girl replies, “Well, you can’t find any at stores around here, you can only buy them.”
“I am going on a plane in a couple days and don’t have time to wait for the vest to be delivered.” Annie said.
The mom then says, “Did you go through a program to train your dog?”
“Oh he is a seizure alert dog.” Annie replies hurriedly.
“If you went through a program they usually give you a vest when the dog is finished.” The gilr’s mom continued.
“Oh really? Is there one around here?”
“I think so.” The girl replies.
“Oh thank you. I will just go and ask them if I can borrow one then.” Annie then walked away to go and throw away her stuff to leave. She walks through the doors and passes the service dog team, without her so called “service dog.”
My mom and I knew that she was just trying to get her dog on the flight for free. If she did have a real service dog, the first thing you’d get is the vest. It is like the most important piece of equipment they have. I just let it slide. There is no way she way going to find a vest soon enough anyway.
My biggest pet peeve? Well, I think it’s pretty obvious…