Sunday, February 28, 2016

Please don't pet

Trooper at the Botanic Garden today.
"Awwwwwww!" cooed the Botanic Garden volunteer as Trooper, Debby and I started to pass her on the pathway to the visitor center. She stooped to pet Trooper.

"Service dog," I said.

"Oh, I know," she said.

"He's working," I said with a smile. "Please don't pet him."

Quickly she stood up. "I've been working here for years," she said, "and I know about service dogs. I know we're not supposed to pet them. "

She launched into a fervent apology for the faux pas she had committed, continuing even though I tried to wave it off. "I should have known better. I'm so sorry . . ."

"He's just too cute," I said. "Don't worry about it."

The volunteer departed in a shower of mild embarrassment despite our reassurance that she had not committed a grave offense.

This is an ongoing problem. My fuzzy little chick magnet seems to be absolutely irresistible to dog lovers, especially women, as well as small children. This results in awkward situations. I am lousy at deflecting friendly and well-meant gestures, but they must be deflected.

Half an hour later we were in an upscale market when an elegant gray-haired woman dropped into a squat before Trooper with a broad smile on her face.

"Service dog," I said quickly, before she could touch him. "He's working. Please don't pet him. It distracts him from his job."

I spoke in as calm and friendly a voice as I could muster.

But Madame Gotrocks shot back up and stalked away with a cold and silent glare, as if I had committed the unforgivable sin of rebuking a social superior in public.

You win a few, you lose a few.

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