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Please Do Not Pet Service Dogs On Duty

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Please Do Not Pet Service Dogs On Duty

Please Do Not Pet Service Dogs On Duty

Don't Pet Me

It is my pleasure to introduce one and all to Hunter the service dog. He has invited me to be his voice for several important messages that he would like to share with you. First, he would like to direct your focus to the message that he wears printed on his vest when he is on duty in public, "Please Don't Pet Me, I'm Working".

I am a dog lover and I fell in love with Hunter on sight. I would have loved to pet and hug him on the spot like I might do with other dogs. But, I can read and I knew right away that touching Hunter was off limits and I resisted engaging him in any way other than taking pictures of him with permission. Believe me, that has taken a little bit of discipline for me because I have spent hours on different occasions with Hunter on and off duty. Also, with Bob, his spokesperson and "Handler", and his wife Linda, who needs a service animal. After each arranged meeting or social visit, that warm place in my heart for Hunter the service dog has enlarged.

Interestingly, Bob, told me that it is usually adults that will try to pet Hunter. He said, "children seem to know better". I am guessing that school age children have been taught dog etiquette somewhere along the way to not pet Service Dogs. Or, it may be that we usually teach our children not to pet strange dogs. That is a lesson we all need to review, especially as it applies to all Service Dogs that are trained to help people with disabilities, illnesses, or other medical conditions that may or may not be visible to us, but a dog's keen sense knows.

Service dog in training vest

Service dog's vest says, "Please Don't Pet Me, I'm Working"

Service dog's vest says, "Please Don't Pet Me, I'm Working"

A Service Dog's Vest

As Bob and I were talking in a parking lot, Hunter stayed alert to everything around while laying or sitting on the ground, as well as standing at Bob's side. I could tell that this dog took his job seriously and didn't want to be distracted from active duty.

I saw a lady approach and could tell right off that she truly wanted to engage and love on this black and white Springer Spaniel on duty. Oh, but she did see the message on the service dog's red vest and resisted the urge using proper etiquette. I knew exactly how she felt, and I suspect the dog sensed it, too.

We all need to remember that Service Dogs that are out in the public eye to aide people, are not there to socialize with us. They are providing essential services for the people that they serve. They are at work.

Service Dogs Are Not Pets

Springer Spaniel Dog Breed

Springer Spaniel Dog Breed

What Happened

You may be wondering how Hunter became a Service Dog. Well, you could say that he volunteered for service. When Hunter was only two years old, he took on the personal responsibility of looking after Linda, and of alerting her husband, Bob, if there were any concerns that needed attending to.

Bob brought their Springer Spaniel to a professional Service Dog trainer and Hunter went officially into training and service after passing an evaluation with flying colors. He is natural and is now 8 years old and has 6 years of service under his vest.

On Duty Shopping

Hunter, Linda and Bob shopping.

Hunter, Linda and Bob shopping.

I am happy that I have been able to spend quality time getting to know Hunter the service dog on duty. I have been honored to get to know Hunter the family member in his home, along with Bob and Linda. The three of them together make a very loving family and their home a special place to visit.

I took this photo when I was able to join Bob, Linda and their service animal on a planned shopping trip to see the three of them in action together. What a joy it was!

Bob said, that he has had other Springer Spaniels, but that Hunter has stood out from all the rest. An exceptional dog does not come along every time, I know.

Hunter is ever at the ready at home to serve both Bob and Linda as the need for his special skills may arise. Many of the duties of a Service Dog actually do occur in the home. I notice Hunter keeping a watchful eye and checking in with both Bob and Linda. Alertness is a special trait that all service animals must possess.

When the vest comes off, Hunter is a different dog. He loves to be petted, and loves to play with toys, and entertain everyone who is around.

Scroll to Continue

Hunter has some more important messages that he wants me to share by writing articles online. So! There will be more articles and photos to come in 2015 on HubPages. I could not be more delighted to be the voice of a service animal.

Dog On Watch Duty For Linda While Bob Stepped Away

Springer Spaniel on watch duty.

Springer Spaniel on watch duty.

I think it must have been destiny for me to meet Hunter and his handler, Bob. I still distinctly remember how we met. I was at a Walmart and was heading for a door. I glanced to my left and saw this adorable black and white dog approaching me along with a man who seemed to have a contented smile on my face. I had my camera along and wanted to take a picture, but did not want to interact because of the message on the dogs vest. In my heart, I secretly made a wish to meet them.

I did not get my courage up and the moment seemed to be lost as I was greeted by an acquaintance. I thought, "Oh well", and visited for a few minutes before heading to the exit. What happened next seemed like a mini miracle.

As I stepped outside, the man with the dog was still there. I got brave and struck up a conversation with him that lasted at least a half hour or more. All that time, I noticed that Hunter only sniffed the air in my direction to check me out and made eye contact. That was it for interacting with me. He had his vest on and he seemed to be very proudly on duty. Bob allowed me to take some pictures and said I could use them online to tell their story and, more importantly, get some important messages out about how we all need to learn about appropriate etiquette when we see these dedicated workers on duty in public.

Service Dog Vest

Service Dogs Need To Be Alert

Anything we do to distract a service dog while on duty, could prevent them from doing the tasks they are trained to do, to assist their people. It only takes one split-second for accidents to occur, and lives could possibly be in harm's way.

Why we should not pet service dogs on duty.

  1. They are watching.
  2. They are smelling.
  3. They are listening.
  4. They are sensing.
  5. They are thinking.
  6. They are ready for service.

These Dog Creates His Own Games

Hunter playing a game.

Hunter playing a game.

A Socially Interactive Dog

I have mentioned that I have never engaged Hunter in any way when I have met him in public. It is important to note that Hunter does not engage me when he has his vest on. There just seems to be a formality about him and it is obvious that he takes his job very seriously. He knows I am there, but does not interact with me other than a quick sniff of the air and a glance in my direction.

On the other hand, Hunter is socially interactive at home. First, he alerts Bob and Linda that someone has arrived in the yard as he looks out a window and then heads to the door. He greets and interacts with guests in an appropriate and friendly manner. He is a very good host that makes visitors that he knows feel welcome.

It Makes It Difficult For Them To Do Their Job

In the video above the lady talks about reaching her hand out when someone tries to pet her service dog, they instead end up petting the back of her hand. Also, she has taught her dog the comment word "ignore". She will tell her dog to ignore, and keep repeating "good, ignore" and give her dog treats for obeying the command. Finally, people get the idea and stop petting.

Do Not Pet While Wearing Vest and He Knows That Rule

Dog with red service vest on.

Dog with red service vest on.

Assistance Dogs

Hunter is in training to assist Linda, who has disabilities and challenges related to having had a stroke several years ago. He is also in training to assist Bob, who has hearing loss. I think that is like doing double duty.

There are basically three different types of assistance dogs. You can read educational articles about them on Wikipedia from the links below.

  • Guide dogs
  • Hearing dogs
  • Service dogs: "Service animals are defined as dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities. Examples of such work or tasks include guiding people who are blind, alerting people who are deaf, pulling a wheelchair, alerting and protecting a person who is having a seizure, reminding a person with mental illness to take prescribed medications, calming a person with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) during an anxiety attack, or performing other duties. Service animals are working animals, not pets. The work or task a dog has been trained to provide must be directly related to the person's disability. Dogs whose sole function is to provide comfort or emotional support do not qualify as service animals under the ADA."

Start Seeing Service Dogs

This is another message the public needs to know, because they need to know the law.

When Not In Vest, Hunter Likes Being Petted

Dog Behind The Wheel Of A Car

Dog Behind The Wheel Of A Car

The Call

Bob called: Linda stepped into eternity at 1:00 a.m. on September 19th, 2015. She was at home at her request, under the loving care of Bob and Hunter. The doctor at the hospital had asked her what she wanted to do on the previous Wednesday and she chose going home. The doctor did not think she would make it there, but arrangements were quickly made for a hospital bed, oxygen and care.

On Friday, Bob asked for a kiss and she puckered up, he asked for a second kiss and she puckered up again. When he asked for another one, she said, "Don't push it.", those were her last words. It was something that seemed to really bless Bob, probably a history on those words.

Hunter's GuestBook

Susie Lehto (author) from Minnesota on August 04, 2016:

Au fait, thank you for sharing that information. Since I moved home to care for my Mom, I don't get into town much at all to be in public places. I had no idea that people are actually registering their non-service dogs not that.

Sorry to hear about the allergies to animals. I can see how that would be a problem for many people if there are too many dogs in stores, libraries, etc.

Thank you!

C E Clark from North Texas on July 19, 2016:

I understand a lot of people are registering their dog as a service animal even though it is not, so that they can take their dog inside public places and cannot be legally prevented from doing so, like restaurants and retail stores, etc.

A couple of weeks ago I encountered a 'service dog' at the mall in the food court. He wasn't wearing a vest (I don't think I've ever seen a dog wearing a vest like the ones in the above photos), but the usual harness I see most of the time on 'service dogs.'

The dog was lying sort of under a table at the mall with his people. There were several children petting him and when I looked at him he seemed to desperately want my attention too. I did speak to him a couple of times, but didn't pet him. I am allergic to all animals and once everyone gets all of their pets registered as service animals so that they cannot be prevented from taking them into places of business and those businesses have several animals in them at all times, I will not be able to go into them anymore.

Dogs are often brought into the public library while training. I haven't seen any service dogs with people who needed their assistance, but I have seen them in training.

Very informative and well written article!

Susie Lehto (author) from Minnesota on May 01, 2016:

Thank you for visiting, Sandy. I'm glad this is a helpful hub. One day I will get a new puppy dog to raise.

Sandy Mertens from Frozen Tundra on April 03, 2016:

Helpful information about the service dog.

Susie Lehto (author) from Minnesota on February 13, 2015:

Patsy, thank you very much for sharing this message.

Much appreciated.

Susie Lehto (author) from Minnesota on February 12, 2015:

That is how they dogs are, Marilyn. They are professionals, and they love being of service. Thank you for your comment, I loved reading it.

Patsy Bell Hobson from zone 6a, Southeast Missouri, USA on February 12, 2015:

This is very helpful. Folks just don't know that these dogs are on duty. They are working.Great Hub. Voted Up,U, I, Pin, Tweet.

Marilyn L Davis from Georgia on February 11, 2015:

Good afternoon, Colorfulone; well done. The vest seems to alert the dog that they are working, also. I have a friend who has a service dog that goes out with her. However, she has been blind since birth, lives alone and as she says, knows where everything is, and she will ask that visitors don't move something without telling her.

Her dog has a completely different posture and alertness when we take a walk in the park. At home, with her vest off, she will approach my friend, nudge her right hand - always, and then gets permission to come over to me and get a belly rub.

Even with this familiarity at her house, Roxanne demonstrates that she is a professional working dog when out, and I do not pet her. As so many have said, why don't people read or act in the same manner that they would with someone's child or baby. ~Marilyn

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on February 11, 2015:

This is a very important message to impart and I will do my best to send it further by tweeting, G+, pinning and sharing on HP. Great photos of Hunter!

Susie Lehto (author) from Minnesota on February 10, 2015:

Marlene, I think you are on to something there. It seems that some things just do not apply to some people, or so they seem to think.

Thank you m'dear!

Marlene Bertrand from USA on February 10, 2015:

I would no more walk up to touch someone's dog without permission than I would walk up to someone's baby and start touching the baby without the parent's permission. Yet, I still see people rubbing, petting, and cooing with service dogs, even after reading, "Please don't pet me. I'm working." I suppose, these are the same people that feed the birds after reading the, "Please do not feed the birds" sign right in front of them.

Susie Lehto (author) from Minnesota on January 28, 2015:

You are welcome, @peachpurple

Thank you for coming by.

peachy from Home Sweet Home on January 26, 2015:

thanks for letting us know the service dogs are different from normal pet dog

Susie Lehto (author) from Minnesota on January 15, 2015:

I am glad that you love Hunter, too, amazmerizing. I sure do!

Thank you so much for visiting.

amazmerizing from PACIFIC NORTHWEST, USA on January 14, 2015:

It reminds me of having friends call or drop by the office... you will be polite but not overly so and let them get back to their work as soon as possible... love this hub... and hunter! ;)

Susie Lehto (author) from Minnesota on January 11, 2015:

Mary, you sound like me on the resisting part.

Springer Spaniels are great breeds for several reasons.

Thank you, M'dear!

Mary Hyatt from Florida on January 11, 2015:

Oh, Hunter would be very hard for me to resist, but I would never interfere with him when he is working!

This breed is very intelligent, and make wonderful service dogs from what I have read.

Voted UP, etc.

Susie Lehto (author) from Minnesota on January 09, 2015:

ChitrangadaSharan, thank you for taking the time to read this important message. - Cheers!

Susie Lehto (author) from Minnesota on January 09, 2015:

Joyfulcrown, I am so glad this article has been helpful for you to understand why not to interact with assistance dogs. - Thank you!

Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on January 09, 2015:

This is an important information about service dogs, we all must know. Very nice pictures and you did an excellent job by enlightening others.

Thanks for sharing and voted up!

Joyfulcrown on January 08, 2015:

As a dog lover I really appreciated this article. My initial reaction is to one to engage with the dog. This article really helped me to understand that the service is working. Thank you.

Susie Lehto (author) from Minnesota on January 08, 2015:

Very nice to see you comment, Jadelynx-HP.

Thank you.

Tracey Boyer from Michigan on January 08, 2015:

Thank you for the informative and useful article. I enjoyed reading it. Well done.

Susie Lehto (author) from Minnesota on January 08, 2015:

Service dogs can be seen just about everywhere it seems.

I am glad that they are so well behaved.

Thank you, dragonflycolor.

Susie Lehto (author) from Minnesota on January 08, 2015:

Thank you, AudreyHowitt.

It is an important message for the public to know.

Susie Lehto (author) from Minnesota on January 07, 2015:

My Bell, thank you for adding your comment to the mix. I agree that people do not mean any ill will, its just hard to resist petting a cute dog and behaves wonderfully in public.

dragonflycolor on January 07, 2015:

Good to know! I see service dogs in the airport all the time, so it's great to know this about them before approaching them for any reason.

Susie Lehto (author) from Minnesota on January 06, 2015:

That is nice of your friend to share his dog with school kids. I am sure that is educational entertainment that children love. I would.

Thank you, pstraubie48.

Susie Lehto (author) from Minnesota on January 06, 2015:

Great point you made with the blind lady with her dog. I would have a need for independence also, but that's very good insight you have, @ FlourishAnyway. - Thank you!

Audrey Howitt from California on January 05, 2015:

So important to know!

Marcelle Bell on January 05, 2015:

Very important and informative article. I agree with Flourish that people don't intend ill will (it's hard to resist petting a sweet doggie) making this article even more of a must read. Well done.

Patricia Scott from North Central Florida on January 05, 2015:

That is so important to know. My friend has a service dog and shares him with school children explaining how he works and how he helps him live a fairly normal life.

The first thing he tells the children is that they may not pet them and of course he explains why.

Angels are on the way to you this afternoon. ps

FlourishAnyway from USA on January 05, 2015:

This is so important. Most people don't intend ill will, only to pet the nice doggie. They really don't know and even if they read it don't realize why it's important. Many years ago when I was a college student there was a blind student with a seeing eye dog. She was with the dog in the grass looking for some lost keys that I plainly saw. I verbally offered to help her (without touching or approaching the dog), but she declined. She said the dog needed to be able to help her find keys without a sighted herself helping her. At the time, I thought it was strange. Years later (having gone through a temporary loss of sight in one eye myself due to MS) I understand. It was about independence. The dog was her tool for independence and she didn't need me messing with that. Voted up and more and shared.

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