Male Black Cross
April 10, 2016
Raisers: Candie, Jillian, & Shirin
Marv was Candie's 35th & Jillian and Shirin's 3rd puppy.
Placed by his raisers; living in Fresno
Ask yourself if you would do that to a stranger's child or to a person who is in the middle of their job. If you wouldn't do it in those situations, it's probably not acceptable to do it to a Service Dog.
Please remember to ask before you pet a Guide Dog even if it looks like they are just sleeping. If the harness is on, then they are working and should not be disturbed without permission from their handler. Distracting a working Guide Dog while they are guiding without is not only a minor annoyance to the person who is trying to get somewhere, but can also be a safety hazard. Remember, these dogs are their person's eyes and cannot see if their teammate is distracted enough to notice that lamp post in their way. Don't be offended if the person half of the team does not allow you to pet their canine companion while they are working. It isn't personal, they just want their dog to be focused while they are working to avoid any safety hazards. This rule also applies to Puppies in Training and all types of Service Dogs.
So, you've followed the first rule and asked before you pet and you went to go pick up your latte, but before you leave that coffee shop you'd like to say good-bye to your new furry friend. Before you reach down to say good-bye, stop and ask again. Just because it was OK once does not mean that it will be OK all of the time. Working conditions could have changed between then and you picking up your latte. Announce yourself to the blind/visually impaired handler and ask if you might say good-bye to their Guide. Again, don't take if personally if they say no. This is another rule that applies to Puppies in Training and all types of Service Dogs.
We all know that our puppies and Guides are probably the cutest things you have every seen (we think so too!) but we are people and social etiquette of politeness does apply. If you see us involved in a transaction at the cash register or deep in conversation, please wait until we are finished before asking to pet our dogs. While we very much appreciate that you are asking to pet our dogs, it can be very distracting to have someone ask just as we are trying to pay for lunch. If we are in conversation, wait until it looks like we are at a stopping point and say something like, "I'm sorry to interrupt, but may I please pet your dog?" We will appreciate the thought and are more likely to allow you to pet the puppy. Again, this applies with Puppies in Training and all types of Service Dogs.
It is important to not feed or offer treats to a Working Guide or a Puppy in Training. Our dogs are on feeding schedules to ensure that they do not relieve in public areas. Any deviation from their diet can cause digestive upsets which can be an inconvenience to their person.
We've talked about the importance of not petting a service dog without asking their handler, but what about talking to them? This is also a distraction which can prove to be potentially harmful to the working team. Please don't call out to the dog, wave your hands in their faces, or make "kissing" noises. This is distracting and can potentially cause the dog or person to make a dangerous mistake.
We all know that people have the best intentions and just want to help. But honking your horn at a working Guide Dog team or a Puppy in Training team to alert them that it's safe to cross isn't as helpful as some might think. Honking can mean a lot of things, least of which is that it's safe for someone to cross. The handler will tell their dog to move forward when they believe it is safe for them to cross and not before. It is then the dog's job to assess the situation to make sure that the person's judgement was correct. A honking horn can actually alert a team that it isn't safe to cross. While those of us who raise puppies are sighted, we are training these dogs to eventually become Guide Dogs. Much like a Guide Dog team, we will tell our dogs to move forward when we believe that it is safe to do so and not before.
We understand that there are people out there who don't like dogs or are allergic to them. Our mission is not to make others as uncomfortable as possible and we will try to make accommodations for others as long as we are approached in a polite manner. It's good to remember that the Guide Dog and their person have just as much right to be there as you do, but they definitely don't want to cause problems.
You may want to ask a Guide Dog handler if they want/need any help in crossing a particularly busy intersection. A lot of people will appreciate the thought even if they decline your offer. However, if they do accept it is important to not grab the dog's harness or leash and pull them across the intersection. Instead allow the person to take hold of your left elbow and walk slightly behind you. This is called a "sighted guide".
We are always willing to answer questions so long as rule number 3 is being followed. If you have a question about Guide Dogs for the Blind, what Guide Dogs do, or about puppy raising please don't be scared to ask. We love talking about our dogs and how amazing they are.
We all like dogs and puppies and it's natural for us to want to go over and pet them. But all Service Dogs are working to ensure the safety and well being of the working team. Because of this it's essential that nothing disrupts them while they are working. We hope that these tips will help you know what to do when you encounter a Service Dog working out in the public. Some of these are geared towards Guide Dogs specifically, but a lot can be applied to all types of service dogs.
Guide Dogs for the Blind has some helpful pointers as well, so if you'd like more information, just click here.