Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Fending off the well-meaning

Sometimes my ideas aren't so brilliant.

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."

This doesn't always do the job. Sometimes people don't understand my deaf speech. Sometimes (especially the elderly) they're rather deaf themselves and just don't hear what I say.

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:


Maybe that will do the job, in-your-face as it is.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the business card is the scheme at right. I figure it'll please curious folks who either can't hear me or understand my speech. It might even persuade hostile business owners that Trooper is a legitimate service dog.

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.

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