Written by Wendy Harris
originally posted August 2015
I’ve been raising service dogs for over 10 years. You might have thought that by now, I’ve seen it all. But oh—not true! New surprises come from either the dogs or from members of the public whom we encounter.
Last week, I was out on a very sunny day. I was wearing sunglasses as I drove to the bank, with my pup in training from Guide Dogs for the Blind in the car. As we got out of the car, I noticed an elderly couple sitting at the outdoor Starbucks table. Instead of the usual smile that guide dog pups usually bring out, this woman frowned as we walked by. Giving it no further thought, I went in and completed my banking errand. On the way out, we passed the same couple enjoying their day and their cup of java.
“Nope. None of my guesses turned out to be the case. I never saw it coming, but she stunned me.”
“Excuse me,” the lady called. So I went over in their direction. I paused at their table, proud that my pup in training remained in perfect position at my side.
“Good afternoon,” I greeted them. I expected to be asked about the pup in training, or told a story of how someone they knew benefited from a guide dog. Or perhaps they knew someone who was raising a service dog, and wanted to know if I knew that person. Nope. None of my guesses turned out to be the case. I never saw it coming, but she stunned me.
“Aren’t you a bit ashamed of yourself?” the lady began. My jaw dropped. “In your condition,” she continued, “since you need a guide dog, do you really think you should be driving?”
Raising a service dog provides so many wonderful opportunities to meet people. But never did a discussion start like this! I explained that my wonderfully behaved dog was really only nine months old, and that he was in training. I assured them that I luckily have excellent vision and am a good driver. And they went from being admonishing to admiring. As we parted ways, they were so impressed, both with the dog and the organization the gives service dogs to those in need at no cost to the recipient, that they said they would go home and send in a donation!
Every day brings a new surprise when you’re raising a service dog!