Often, when someone comes up and asks to interact with Trooper, my service dog for the deaf, I'll say "No, please don't pet, he's a service dog and he's working."
And so for such events I came up with the business card at right. I didn't want to use the words "No" or "Don't" because some folks take offense at blunt and negative statements. "Should avoid distractions" ought to do the trick, don't you think?
Then the other day a sweet old lady stopped at my table in a local coffee shop and bent down over Trooper. Before she could touch him I plucked the card from a pocket on his service-dog vest and handed it to her. She took it, examined it carefully, beamed and said, "How sweet!"—then stooped and petted him.
Either she was illiterate or a couple of Milk-Bones short of a feeding, I thought. Then I realized that the gentle language might not have triggered proper understanding in her elderly mind.
And so I am going to revise and simplify the message:
WORKING SERVICE DOG
PLEASE DO NOT PET
Maybe that will do the job, in-your-face as it is.
Of course it may suggest to people that I'm just not capable of conversation. That's a phenomenon every deaf person must deal with.
Goes with the territory.