Then he says, well maybe you could help me. I have a needy dog. How do I make my dog a service dog? Well, my friends and family know exactly how I feel about fake service dogs but I was polite. So I did not call him a jerk or ask him if he was disabled. No.
I just told him that a service dog provides at least 4 functions that without the service dog, the person who has the service dog NEEDS them to do, in order to function safely.
He told me about his little dog and how he goes to see his Dad in an old people's home. And I told him maybe he was thinking of having a therapy dog. One that could be trained and certified to go places and be a comfort to people. He then told me that his dog stays in the room but as soon as somebody opens the door he runs out. And I said well that's the difference, the training, isn't it. A service dog typically takes two or more years to train, depending on how complicated the needs are of the disabled person is they are serving. Yeah, that must be it, the training.
Oh, I couldn't do that now he said. My dog is three years old. I said yeah probably not and went on my way.
Unbeknownst to him Coco was working. He had blocked our way to go forward. So Coco turned in front of me and was on my right side and looking forward, showing me I would need to turn around, I couldn't go any further in that direction. If I was dizzy she would take me to a door or a window or a seat. If nothing is available she takes me to a wall to lean up against it and she cups her body around me until I'm okay again. It took us 2 years and 3 months of training and really everyday we are working and training.
And that is why able bodied people don't get it. The reason a service dog can go anywhere is because they are trained to take care of their human in all kinds of places and in all kinds of situations. They are not there because they are needy or because someone doesn't want to leave them home alone. They are working. Not out to play with other dogs. It is a huge sacrifice for them and for their owner. They become and are in many ways, each others world. Depending on each other for life, for safety and also for companionship.
You should have seen her. Her eyes locked into mine. Her body poised to take me out of the store and on with our lives.