Almost everybody loves dogs and it’s not hard to see why. They are faithful companions and always ready for some fun.
Dogs are often incredibly smart and intuitive. That’s why many are trained to act as service animals, attending to the various needs of their owners.
When we see a dog out and about, our first instinct may be to run up and start petting it. While this is ill-advised for several reasons, with service dogs it is especially verboten.
When they are out with their owners, service dogs are on the job. They must be vigilant to make sure they are doing all they can to keep their master safe.
Sadly, not everyone gives service dogs the respect and space they need, and the result can be detrimental. That’s why Laura Joos is sharing her story.
Laura has a condition that can cause her to lose consciousness. Her service dog, Polly, can sense when Laura’s blood pressure is rising and alert her so she can get to safety.
Recently, Laura and Polly were at Walmart when they encountered a family who obviously didn’t know proper protocol when it comes to service animals. The situation was so scary and dangerous – not to mention infuriating – for Laura that she decided to write a letter to the mother in the hope that something like this never happens again.
“Dear fellow mom in Walmart,” she wrote. “I saw you coming down the aisle towards me, your 3 kids in tow, I get it being a mom is hard work sometimes. Your youngest in the cart, your older 2 walking next to you. I could hear you from far away ‘yes look doggy, woof woof!’ Your kids walking faster arms stretched out. They were excited! ‘A DOG! A DOG!’ They called out.”
Usually in situations like this, Laura tries to avoid people who might cause a distraction for Polly, but in this case, she was trapped. She had no choice but to pass the children.
“I was dreading it,” she wrote, “I knew your kids were going to try and pet my dog. I knew you had no intention on telling them ‘don’t pet the dog, it’s working.’
“I tried to put space between me and the people in front of me, so when it was my turn to walk by I could do it quickly, however my attempts to do so failed and I had to slowly walk past you and your kids.”
That’s when something happened that even Laura wasn’t expecting: one of the children reached out and smacked Polly. Laura still remembers the loud thud as the girl’s hand hit the dog’s back.
“My dog is highly trained, so luckily for your daughter the only reaction out of my dog was a tail tuck, and a quick Scurry up in front of me to get away from her,” Laura said.
She looked at the children’s mother and pleaded, “She’s a service dog, please teach your kids not to pet them.”
But instead of apologizing and correcting her children, the mother rudely turned to Laura and jeered, “EXCUSE YOU!”
Laura was stunned.
“Here is what you didn’t see,” she wrote in her letter to the rude mother. “5 minutes before I saw you I got an alert from my dog, my heart rate was steadily climbing, my chest was becoming tight, my vision was going fuzzy, I felt like I was under water.