Monday, January 18, 2016

Keep your distance. Please.

One continuing problem we have with Trooper is that he is a super chick magnet. Yes, the chicks are all in their 70s and 80s, and my impossibly cute service dog runs into them during our hikes every morning at the Levy Center, Evanston’s geezer hangout.

“Soooo cute!” they coo, homing in like buzzards to supper. Usually they’re upon him before I have time to react and say, “He’s working. Please do not pet him.”

They get such pleasure out of this little miniature schnauzer mix that I haven’t the heart to lecture them about admiring working service animals from a distance. It’s almost as if they think Trooper’s a geriatric therapy dog for them to cuddle.

I thought maybe a “DO NOT PET” sleeve to slip over his leash might help, and so I ordered one online from a “service dog” equipment site, despite my misgivings about its very likely selling stuff to people who want to pass off their untrained pets as service animals. (That's fraud.)

Upon its arrival Debby threw up her hands in horror. “It’s downright hostile!” she said. I have to admit I thought it’d be much smaller and visible mostly to people who bent down close. Nope. It exudes all the cheer of a “TRESPASSERS WILL BE SHOT” sign in the front yard.

So “DO NOT PET”  went into a drawer.

I’ve decided that the Levy Center is not a public place where service dogs work, but an extension of my living room where the family can pet Trooper all it wants.

Restaurants, public sidewalks, supermarkets, retail stores, movie theaters and the like, however, definitely are public venues and I’ll just verbally ask folks there, in as kindly a fashion as I can muster, not to interact with Trooper.

"He's working," I'll say. "Please don't pet. It'll distract him. Thanks."

Simple solution, yes? But will it work?

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