is this service dog legit?Posted: September 23, 2013
The topic of fake service dogs is hot right now, and I feel a personal attachment to the debate. I have cared for a handful of service dogs, and though I’m far from being an expert on the subject, I think I understand the basics of what makes an actual service dog.
The other day I was in COSTCO, and I saw the cutest little Boston Terrier. He had a handsome red vest on, embroidered smartly with the words “SERVICE DOG.” Of course, my eyes are immediately attracted to the animal in any situation. I wanted to kiss this little guy, and then I noticed that everyone else did, too. And they were.
As much as I like to make out with just about every dog I see, I resist my temptation with service dogs and keep my distance. They deserve the proper respect to do their jobs with minimal distraction. And I’m a good doggie kisser, so I can be a distraction. I observed this particular dog in COSTCO with his owner on a regular leash (okay) at the hot dog pizza counter tables. His man was feeding him bits of hot dog and pizza, and several people were coming up to them and showering the dog with affection. The owner just let it happen and didn’t explain that the dog was on duty, or anything of the sort.
The dog, himself, was not behaving in the fashion I know to be service dog behavior. He was begging for food (hey, stick with what works) and he was wandering around to the extent of his leash, even getting a bit tangled in the pole that held up the bench seat. Hmm.
I then was particularly confused when the owner took the dog toward the restroom (one of my littles had to go, too, coincidentally). He tied the dog to a sample cart that was being prepped to hit the floor while he went to the restroom. Huh?
Are service dogs typically just tied to things? I don’t think I’ve ever seen this in my life.
The sample person had to completely disinfect the cart after the dog was untied (I know this because my other little timed a bathroom trip just perfectly after the other, so I got to go back).
This all just seems a bit odd to me. It’s not the New-York-diva-lady-with-a-fake-service-dog-in-a-purse scenario that we’ve been hearing about in the media, but it’s questionable to me, nevertheless. And my emotions are at the heart of the problem. I didn’t DARE question the man. Nor did anyone working at COSTCO. That service vest seems to command as much respect as a police officer’s uniform. I would never want to insult the man with the dog by questioning him. What would I even say?
So is this dog the real deal? If not, what do we do about this?