How to Behave Around a Service Dog


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In the continuing effort to raise money for Paws with a Cause, a service dog training organization, the lovely Capri Smith has returned with some thoughts on how to behave around a service dog…

Don’t forget that there are two contests going as part of this effort — one you can enter by following the directions below, donating directly to Paws with a Cause through Everibbon, and my own contest to give away a trade paperback copy of Deliberate Deceptions through the Rafflecopter widget.  The two are separate contests–entering my Rafflecopter giveaway will not enter you in the contest for the gift certificates and boxes of swag.


In case you wondered why

Why can you have your dog with you in a restaurant and I can’t bring mine with me?

Our dog isn’t legally defined as a dog. He’s actually defined by law as a medical device. In order to wear a service dog vest, the animal (I have heard of all kinds of service animals like stability horses) must replace a body function that is not working in its handler. Sometimes that means the dog is acting as ears, or eyes, in our case Teddy Bear acts as a pancreatic sensor, since my daughter Kitty’s body doesn’t do that on its own.

Why can’t I pet a service dog?

service-dog-patchBelieve me, our service dog Teddy Bear would LOVE for you to pet him – to get right down with him and scrub his fur and to be your best friend. And his eyes will tell you he wants you to. But there’s a good reason why you can’t. Teddy is working and needs to focus on his job. If we let anyone pet him while he’s “in vest” (and that includes our very dearest friends who can pet Teddy in our house) then Teddy will try to make friends while he’s out and about. And the social butterfly that he is, that would mean that Teddy wasn’t focused on keeping my daughter Kitty seizure free.  Another reason that we have this rule is to protect Teddy. Not everyone knows how to handle a dog, and we don’t want anyone thumping on his head or handling him too roughly. Yes, I have had people come up and pull his tail. Also, we understand that the people around us may have issues: fear of dogs, allergies, dark clothes that they would rather not have covered with puppy fur. So it’s really for the best that Teddy works and everyone ignores him.

Why is it wrong to distract a service dog?

A service dog is not a pet, but dogs are dogs and they LOVE to play. Sitting there hour after hour being a good boy can be boring, and Teddy would love for you to click your tongue, or pat your leg, or whistle to him. It means you’re ready to play (or give him a treat) and boy would he love that. But just like any job, when you’re at work it’s not playtime. I promise you, playtime comes later. I will throw the ball for Teddy until his tongue is lolling out of his mouth, and he is exhausted. If you were to distract my dog, he might miss the shift in smells that my daughter’s body puts out when her blood sugar is dropping, and she could end up having a seizure or going into a coma. Teddy’s job is important. He’s out in public with us for a good reason. Let’s let him focus.

Teddy-on-blanket

Why can’t I give a service dog a piece of meat from my sandwich?

Well that’s a two-fold answer.  Firstly, our dogs can’t eat out in public because we are in restaurants. They can’t be under the table whining and begging; we would be asked to leave. (Under the law, a service dog can be in any public space, but he must not impede the business.)  Also, someone might feed our dog something that would hurt him like a chicken bone, or worse a grape, or raisin. And Teddy gets “paid” to alert. We use food as his paycheck. He gets special treats for alerting on a blood sugar issue, but he must earn even his regular meals by doing tricks. (Did you know that Teddy Bear can do math? He can add subtract and multiply – he practices before breakfast each morning.) So Teddy ONLY gets food as a reward and NEVER just because he’ll like it or he’s hungry.

Why can’t I ask the dog’s handler a million questions?

TeddyWell you can! Sometimes. Please use your good judgment. If someone is busy going about their day – let them be. But if you are all sitting around a waiting room, then ask if you can ask some questions. Usually people are happy to tell you about their dog. But some people are shy or tired or distracted by their thoughts – that’s understandable. Take your cues from how the conversation is going just like you would about anything else. Believe me, I LOVE to brag about Teddy Bear. He’s our furry miracle.

~ Capri Smith


How to donate to Paws with a Cause:

1. Go to https://www.everribbon.com/PawswithaCause
Pawswithacause42. Click on “Make a Donation”
3. Enter an amount you wish to donate. Everibbon will add a small fee to your donation for processing. My fee for donating $5.00 was .49 cents. So keep this in mind when deciding your donation amount. You will receive 1 entry into the giveaway for every $1 you donate.
4. In the box that says “on the behalf of” please put your name. This is the name that will be listed on the Everibbon website so put a name you do not mind being visible to everyone. Do not check the box to make an anonymous donation because I will not be able to track your donation to enter you into the giveaways.
5. Next it will ask you for your credit or debit card information.
6. Then it will ask for your email address to send you a receipt. This is so that you can submit it for tax purposes.
7. Ta Da! You’re all done making your donation. Now you need to contact Danielle to enter the giveaway.
8. Please email Danielle at RomanceBookJunkiesDanielle@Yahoo.com with the name you used to donate your money. For example the name I used to donate on behalf of was Romance Book Junkies. Do not send me your name off your credit or debit card because I will not be able to see this. Along with the name you used please tell me how much you donated and if you live in the US or are International.
9. You’re all done. Thank you for donating!

What’s in it for you? (Other than just that “I did something good!” feeling)

There will be 4 winners for the main giveaway.

  • 2 $65 gift certificates to any online book store.
  • 1 huge box of books and swag from Romance Book Junkies (for US residents only)
  • 1 huge box of books and swag from Bitten by Paranormal Romance (for US residents only)

Good luck to all and thank you for helping make this fundraiser a success.

How to find other blogs participating in the fundraiser

Click here to enter your link and view this Linky Tools list…Powered by Linky Tools

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Note: The widget below is ONLY for Leah’s giveaway. You must do the above to be entered for the main giveaway for the gift certificates and the boxes of swag. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway