It’s a dog!

Its getting to the point where I dont even want to go into a store with my dog guide. People are getting on my last nerve. Youd think that in 2013, the average American would know how to behave around a service animal. Ive mentioned before here that I wish I had a dollar for every time somebody asked me if they could pet my dog. Now, Id like to add to my riches by wishing for a dollar every time some kid would holler A dog! as we pass by them in a store. Remember when your mother told you not to point at people who looked different? Maybe they used a wheel chair, or maybe they were on crutches, or maybe they had a big birth mark on their face. But you didnt point and scream Look! You just didnt. What ever happened to that common sense advice from mothers? Indeed, where are the mothers? They are pointing too. Theyre saying to a child who is showing no interest, Dont touch that dog. That dog is that ladys eyes. And here I cringe as well. My dog is not my eyes. Hes my guide. How can a 4-year-old child understand such a metaphor? What do you mean that dog is that ladys eyes? The other reaction from many uneducated parents is a request to pet the dog. Where have they been when television shows talk about the importance of not distracting a guide dog when its trying to do its job? Come to think of it, where have the kids been? I can understand a toddlers fascination with a dog in a store. After all, they havent been to school yet, and they probably cant even understand the concept of blindness. But when a 10-year-old child acts like were a public spectacle to be amazed at, its obvious that somebody isnt doing the job of educating our youth about people with disabilities and the tools they use to live their lives.

Heres what my daughter Kara said on Face Book.

I can have patience all the live, long day with small children. But, really, if a

child is ten years old and honestly does not know why a dog might be in a store guiding

someone around – that is a problem. Ugh. I told my mom she needs to start going into

all the schools and educating kids about working dogs.

Enter sensitivity sessions, led by real people with real disabilities, who have real feelings, and real understanding of what its like to live with a disability. Shameless Plug. Contact me at

Mary.hiland

to schedule a learning experience for your group.

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