BREAKING NEWS

They said what? (overheard conversations with the public on service dogs)

Below is some of the things that we - as service dog handlers - have heard when out in public with our service dogs. Sometimes we hear things that are disturbing to us as a community; such as persons faking pets as service dogs or insulting us or our disability. And some things we hear are funny. Below is a list of both - this list was compiled by a number of members of this site. We have created some acronyms for certain situations. CLOTs are clueless owner trainers. Those are persons that are disabled, and are attempting to train their own service dog. They often fall well short of the standards that they should. And MOPs are members of the public. SD is service dog.

One of the most disturbing things for us is when someone talks about "faking". Fake service dogs are a big problem for the entire community. Service dogs are highly trained and they have a specific purpose. An untrained pet or even a well trained pet but one that is not cut out for public access can become so stressed that it injures someone or itself.

Take for instance this conversation one of our members had:

I had a guy come up to me in a retail store a couple months ago and start a one-sided conversation about how he'd love to pass off his pet border collie as a service dog. I said nothing, I was training downstays with distractions and trying not to whack him (the guy - not my dog). He goes on to say that maybe he'll claim said dog as a diabetic dog because "people aren't allowed to ask questions." So I pass him off as an uninformed moron. I ask him why the heck he's telling me this evil plan of his, and he responds," well, YOU aren't disabled, and YOU got past the system."

We don't "get past the system". We have to be prepared - at any time - to prove our disability and our need for our dog as well as the tasks our dog is trained for - in a Court of law. A faker can face anything from fines up to jail time for passing off a pet as a service dog. *It should be noted here that this gentleman did, in fact, purchase an illegal vest for his dog. He was actually questioned as to the legality of his dog, which he could not verify. He was escorted from the store by security, and told not to return with the dog. He was free to return without the dog.*

Or this one -- where some people think that it's just "cool" to have a service dog.

Cashier, "oh My dog would be good at being a service dog, She's so calm and friendly..."
Handler:"oh, cool how old is she and what tasks would she do to mitigate your disability?"
Cashier: blank state, "oh just lay there"
By then it was time for me to go and I just walked out....

And...more people talking about faking a pet as a service dog:

Lady: Is that a guide dog?! (Max was 25 pounds at the time and maybe a foot tall?)
Handler: He's in training to be a service dog.
Lady: OH service dog! So can you take him on buses and trains?
Handler: Well..yes...
Lady: My daughter has a yorkie and we want him to do that! It's so great what you're doing!

MOP: "That's a nice vest! Where can I get one of those?"
Me: "It's his Service Dog training vest."
MOP: "Oh, I know, but how can I get one?"
Me (channeling my inner QS): "Well, first you have to get yourself a disability."
MOP: "I can't just fake it and buy a vest and take my dog everywhere?"
Me: "Well, I guess you could, but you'd be breaking federal and local laws!"

MOP: I'm not allowed to pet the dog, am I?
Handler: No, not while he's working. Sorry.
MOP: But... I REALLY love dogs!

Hostess at restaurant: Will the dog be waiting outside?
Handler: Um... no. He will be waiting under the table.

I was at the hospital being wheeled on the gurney to my room in the ER.
Paramedic: "The nurse asked me about your dog. I told her she didn't have to worry --that he is a REAL service dog. We transport a guy now and then who has a Chihuahua who he says is a service dog. He is MEAN --growls and everything."

MOP at hospital- oh how nice of you to bring in a therapy dog and to push that guys wheel chair!
Handler- that man is MY dad. And the dog is working for me, not here for others.
Mop- oh... the dog still needs petted. *reaches to pet dog and handler steps back with dog stepping away as well*
Handler- and you need to learn to read and not molest people.
Mop- but I never touched you.
Handler- touching my medical equipment is the same as touching me. Do I call the cops, or just the hospital staff over being harassed by volunteers in this facility? Because I can call either right now since you can't seem to understand your interfering with a working SD.
She reached for the dog not once but three times. Thankfully one of the nurses stepped in and told the lady to go back to reception where she belonged. My dad was just sitting there in shock at the audacity of this person.

Distracting a service dog puts a handler's health and safety at risk, and even so, people still don't get it. It literally can mean the difference between life and death.

The other day my project lead (who knows about my future SD) came up to me...
Him: So, uh, is it really true we can't throw stuff at the dog?

Some things are sad, such as this conversation:

Very elderly woman: What is that dog doing in this store? I am buying my groceries here.
Store employee: That is a service dog, ma'am. The dog helps its disabled owner. It is allowed here, by law.
Very elderly woman: *with an air of supriority* Well, in my day, we didn't let them out in public with the good folk. They were locked up for a reason. They were called in valids for a reason, you know.
Handler: *walks away sad*

Some exchanges we have are frightening:

Children: *run up to service dog - grab at - poke - pull tail - yank on leash - scream - bark*
Handler: Please do not distract or mess with my service dog.
Parent: "How dare you chastise/scold/discipline my child? You have absolutely no manners.
Handler: Your child was distracting my service dog. That's dangerous for my health and safety.
Parent: Then keep your mutt at home. Don't you ever tell anyone else's child what to do. You cripples think you own the world, with special parking and dogs in public. Stay home. *stomps off in a huff*

Some of the things we hear are really funny:

I had this happen in the post office today.

Child of about 4; "LOOK DADDY! A DOG! A DOG!"
Dad; "Yes, that's a dog"
Child, gets distracted and started looking at a card with a cat on it; "Look! A cat too!"
Dad, rather patiently, "Yes, that's a cat"
Then they got annoying. The dad kept pointing to my dog going "What's that? What's that??" finally the kid turned around and yelled "A CAT!!!!"
At that point I just laughed in their faces. Molly was sitting there the whole time looking at me, ignoring the heck out of them, which I was very proud of her for.

Then, at the petstore, we were working on some guide tasks and the groomer lady was talking to someone in line ahead of us about their bulldog.She turns away and see me and Molly standing there.
Groomer lady; "Oh my goodness! What a beautiful girl you are!"
She turns to me, "She is a girl, right?"
Me "Yes, she's a female"
Groomer lady "Look at you sitting there so quietly! What a good girl!!"
Molly completely ignores her and doesn't break focus
Groomer lady "What, is she not friendly? Does she not like people"
Me; "No, she's working."
Groomer lady "OH MY GOD, I AM SO SORRY" and then she ran off, lol.
I guess the vest, the collar and the patches that say "working/service dog, do not pet" didn't register with her

Handler was on campus one day going to an appointment, and was using a guide dog at the time. It is a huge campus and has traffic lights in some places. Handler came up to one of these and was listening to the traffic. A man came up behind Handler and then started crossing the street as he left he said "You can cross. Your dog forgot to tell you the light changed."

Person: What a handsome boy he is!
Handler: Yes, SHE is a beautiful girl
Person: That's a girl dog? Are you sure?
Handler: Yes, quite sure.
Person: Can you prove it?

Person: Is that a german shepherd?
Handler: Um, no - yellow labrador.
Person: I didn't know they made those kinds of dogs. What does she do?
Handler: Balance and mobility.
Person: Oh - so what's wrong with your vision?

Person: (talking to their child) look at that dog, he helps that lady see.
Handler:(talking to Molly) Ugh...sorry Molly, you just got sex changed again.
Person: now watch what he does for the lady.
Handler: (talking to Molly as I point to something specific) Pick up the box of macaroni and cheese - the Velveeta - one in the yellow box - not the blue box.
Person: See, look - that doggy can read and tell the difference between Velveeta and Kraft macaroni and cheese.

Person: Service dog? What branch?
Handler: what?
Person: Army - Navy - Airforce? What branch of service?
Handler: Isn't it obvious? Navy. She is a salty dog and a Navy Seal.
Person: Cool.

Person: It's a wonderful thing you are doing for those poor pathetic blind people.
Handler: "Excuse me?"
Person: It's wonderful how you are training that dog.
Handler: She is mine - she is for balance.
Person: Oh, well the blind are still pathetic.

Person: I wish my dog would behave like that.
Handler: thousands of dollars in training and time would do it.
Person: oh, I don't have that kind of time. What can I do to get a service dog?
Handler: Get yourself a disability.
Person: That's a requirement?

Person: If that ain't one of them there blind dogs, you can't come in here.
Handler: it's a service dog. the ADA gives me the right to have my dog accompany me.
Person: If that ain't one of them blind dogs, you can't come in.
Handler: (slips a pair of dark sunglasses on.) "okay? "
Person: Yup, that's a blind dog. You can come in.

Handler: "Oh, please don't pet him when he's wearing his vest. He's training to be a service dog."
Door Man: "Oh, sorry. Training, huh? So it's a weighted vest?"

Employee: is that a licensed dog?
Handler's mom who was quicker than Handler: no he only has his learners permit since he forgets to use the clutch when shifting.

Employee: you cant have pets in here
Handler to mom: sorry mom you need to wait outside
Mom to Handler: guess your service dog has to do the shopping alone today since you do too

Employee: You cant have your dog in here Ma'am
Handler: uhm i believe the correct wording to your question is "is that a service dog" and yes i can legally have him in here as he is a service dog.

Child to mom: Mom why does that woman have a dog in the store?
Mom to child: She's blind and the dog helps her see.
Child to mom: But she's looking at her phone...
Mom to child: Well, that's because she has the dog with her!
Child to mom: Oooooh!

"look mommy, that lady has a hyena!"

Person: If you're blind, how can you drive a car?
Handler: It's one bark for left, two barks for right. And bites my ear to brake.

Person: Is that a blind dog?
Handler: No, she sees just fine, thank you.

Person: Does he bite?
Handler: Only people who ask if he bites.

Bus Driver: That dog can't get on this bus unless its a blind dog.
Handler: Well, ONE of us has to be able to see!!!

Store employee-- Those dogs better be blind dogs..
Handler: Darn it-- their opthamologist told me they could see perfectly!

Police Officer: Why can't my K9 partner come in this restaurant but your dog can?
Handler: Your dog is a weapon, mine is Medical Equipment. Your gun is on your belt-- My gun is at home.

Store Owner: The Health Department will close me down- we have food here!!!
Handler: I will gladly take on the Health Department on your behalf, should the need arise.

Sitting on a bench with my niece at the mall a person comes up with her kids and someone else
Person : oh hey we see you all the time! I didn't know you could bring dogs in here,"
Handler: she is a service dog she specially trained to assit me with my disabilty only service dogs are allowed in public places like the mall
Person: (pointing to me) are you.......(turns to my niece,) " is she blind,"

Person: Is that a search and rescue dog?
Handler: Am I lost?

Shopping in Walmart while in a mobility cart:
Teenager "Is that a police dog??"
Handler "Do I look like a police officer?"

Person: *jumps in front of handler and waives their hand in their face*
Handler: What in the heck are you doing?
Person: You can see that? I was testing to see if you were really blind.
Handler: By waiving your hand in my face??
Person: I didn't think you could see me.
Handler: UGH!

Person: Is that a real dog?
Sarcastic friend: No, it's a child in costume playing as a dog.

Employee: I know your dog is working but can I pet it?
Handler: I know you are working but can I pet you?

Child: Mommy -- look!! A doggy.
Mom: That's nice dear, do you have a new invisible friend?
(or) Mom: Now little Johnny, what have I told you about saying things that aren't true. No dogs are allowed in here.
Child: but Mommy - there is a dog. It's right there (pointing at you)
Mom: Johnny, stop it. There are no dogs in here.
Child: Mommy - it's right there by the milk. (as you are walking away from the milk and disappear from sight)
Mom: (finally turning around) I told you that there are no dogs in here.
Child: But Mommy, I saw it. I really did.

Dad: Look Susie!!! A doggy!!! Isn't that great? That lady gets to bring her dog anywhere she wants to.
Susie: Why Daddy?
Dad: Well - because she is sick.
Susie: Daddy, I have a cold. Can I take Max with me to the store?
Dad: Ummmmmm.........

Child: Mommy -- Mommy -- Mommmmmmmmyyyyyy....loooooook - that lady dressed her doggy up as a horse on Halloween. He is wearing a saddle.

Police Officer: You're training him, right now?
Handler: yes
Police Officer: But he doesn't have a taining collar on.
Handler: What is a training collar supposed to look like?
Police Officer: I don't know.
Handler: Then how can you say this is not a training session?
Police Officer: Because it is night time, and you are outside when everyone else in your building is inside

Man asking librarian in a frantic voice " When did the state start issuing drivers licenses to blind people?"
The driver on coming into the library had seen Handler load their harnessed mobility dog into the truck and drive off

Person:Nice you can bring your blind dog inside the grocery store . He acts like he can SEE with that harness !

Chinese restaurant:
Manager : No dog No dog.
Handler gives him an information pamphlet with the service dog information in 7 different languages including chinese. He grumps and allows handler and dog to stay. As the manager is walking back to the register, a customer pipes up with " Well if it is on the menu, they dont want it inside the restaurant on the HOOF !"

Person: How did you give your service dog a perm? He is so wavy....

Child asks Mom; Why does that lady have a service dog ?
Mom; Oh some people do that rather than staying home where they belong.

Person: "How old is the service dog ?"
Handler: 8 years,
Person: "wont it be hard to give him up when he is done training ?"

Person: I was told by a service dog program that service dogs are a special breed and only bred for that. I have never seen one with curly hair ! Are you sure it is a service dog?

Opthamologist at BIG hospital eye clinic after checking Handler's eyes; "Now we KNOW you are not blind so how did you talk a program into giving you a GUIDE DOG?"
He seemed skeptical when Handler corrected and stated "she is a MOBILITY dog not a GUIDE dog."
Opthamologist: " Well she kept you from walking into a wall and falling over a chair. We saw when you had to go down the hall to the other exam room after your eye dilation treatment, so she HAS to be a guide dog.. "

Store owner; No dog allowed, you are not disabled.
Handler: do you need proof ?
Store owner; Yes, I need proof .
Handler walked to the window and pointed at my truck and said: ,Do you see the licence plates ? That is my truck..
Store Owner: "disabled people DONT DRIVE "..
Handler: HOW then did I get handicapped plates? AND why are there cars out there parked in handicapped slots then all over ?

Inside a small store in a very rural area.
Heading for the door with my mobility dog in a harness and marked bright yellow cape after paying for my soda.
Police officer is walking in: "What is THAT?" looking at the dog.
Handler: Uh I think it's a dog.... .
Handler heard the cashier crack up as I went on out the door leaving the officer just standing there gawking. .

-Customer ; What is your service dog's name ?
Handler states: GUESS ( which is indeed his name).
The customer gets all offended and huffs off going,
Customer: "WEEELLL... She did NOT have to be SO RUDE!"
Cashiers about fell on the floor over that one laughing.

-Customer in store: Where can I buy equipment like that for my pet ?
Handler gives them the actual phone number to a well known guide dog program in California .. Figured they would give them the riot act !

In a store 5 year old kid tells Mom," Hey she has her dog dressed for halloween early . How come she has it in the store? "
her mom is trying to explain ," Um she is disabled so her dog makes her walk. "
As handler is walking off as the kid says "BUT Mommy our dog makes us walk, can we bring him in too? ".....

Child says: Mommy why is that dog wearing that stuff?
Clueless mother: OH that is the store guard dog. They chase shoplifters

Person: "I had a black Lab just like that one. He/She is soo smart. They're great dogs"
Handler: "That's cool."
Person: "He/she died."
Handler: "I am sorry to hear that."
(Why random people stop me to tell me about their dog--and tell me their dog died--some had their dog die recently--I am not sure. Catharsis? The sight of my dog brings those memories flooding back? How do you respond? It feels so awkward.)

Person: "Is that a Great Dane puppy/mix?"
Handler: "He is a black Labrador Retriever."
Person: "Are you sure? Is he full blooded?"
Handler: "I'm pretty sure he's a full Lab--that's all his program breeds."
(whereupon person walks away - unsure of what to say next)

Person: "What a beautiful dog! He's so gorgeous!"
Handler: "Thank you."
Handler looks on as person is too busy looking at the dog to watch where she's going and rams her cart into the dairy case.

Person: Can my child pet your dog?
Handler: Can I pet your child?
Person: Freak!! --{and runs away screaming down the aisle - dragging child after her and saying to child: Never talk to strangers and never ask someone to pet their service dog!)
Handler: Lesson learned!

(This following conversation was had twice with the same person)
Person: Oh, you have a service dog. Do you know Jennifer?
Handler: I know some people named Jennifer - could you be more specific?
Person: You must know Jennifer. She lives in that little town just over the border of New York - she has a service dog. All you people who have service dogs must know one another. You have to know Jennifer. She only talks to weird people, because - you know - she has a service dog. She's weird too.
Handler: So, Jennifer - who has a service dog - so I must know her - only talks to weird people?
Person: Yes - that's her - Jennifer. You know her, don't you?
Handler: uhhhh---I don't think so -- let me ask you, does Jennifer talk to you?
Person: Oh yes - all the time.
Handler: And Jennifer, who is weird herself, only talks to weird people - because - you know - she has a service dog.
Person: Yes.
Handler: Nope - I don't know her. But - since she only talks to weird people...and she talks to you...are you weird?
Person: Of course not!! Well, I never...
Handler: But Jennifer who is weird only talks to weird people and she talks to you?
Person: Never mind!
Handler: Okay. Got it.

(This conversation happens quite frequently in varying degrees - however the outcome is almost always the same: almost no one understands)
Person: Aren't you going to be sad to give him up?
Handler: Umm...he's mine.
Person: But, you are training him for someone, right?
Handler: No.
Person: But, you don't look blind.
Handler: Service dogs can be used for many other disabilities.
Person: But, you aren't blind?
Handler: No. I do have a disability that he mitigates.
Person: Oh. But, you will be sad when you give him up, right?
Handler: Yeah -- okay...(at which point in time the handler realizes that this person is not going to understand no matter how small words they use)

Retail store worker reaches down and pets service dog, stating: "Pet the working dog, pet the working dog"
Service dog handler reaches up and starts patting the man on his hair: "Pet the working man, pet the working man"

Person: I want a dog just like him!
Handler: I'll give you the disabilities to go with the dog
(That conversation can also go along with being told how lucky we are to have a handicap parking permit or how lucky we are to be able to sit down all the time in a wheelchair)

Person: Oh, what a beautiful dog. Are you training him?
Handler: No, she is mine.
Person: Oh -- uh -- oh...so, what's wrong with you?
Handler: How were the results of your last (prostate or mammogram) tests?
Person: What?! That's personal.
Handler: Yeah - so is asking me WHAT my disability is.
Person: Oh. Yeah...okay, have a great day.

Person:"Is that one of them blind dogs?"
Handler:"I certainly hope not."

Person: "Oh are you training the dog?"
Handler:"No, stole him from some blind guy when he was in the bathroom."

Person: "It's marvelous how you get around!"
Handler: "You're right, this one foot in front of the other thing is tough!"

Person: "OH MY GOD IT'S A DOG!" (usual screeched by young teen girls, though not exclusively)
Handler: "OH MY GOD I THOUGHT IT WAS A GIRAFFE!"

Person: "They're so obedient!"
Handler: "Yep, there's a little chip in the back of the neck to control them"

Person: (usually pointing out a service dog to their child)"Look at the doggie!"
Handler: "Look at the parent with no manners!" or "Look at who just taught their kid it's okay to point at the disabled!"

Person: "DOGGIE!"
Handler: "CHILD!" or "HUMAN!"

Person: "Does he bite?"
Handler:"No, but I do"

Person:"How can you resist those eyes!"
Handler:"It's easy, I'm blind."

Person: "Can I pat your dog?"
Handler: "Can I pat your eyes?" or "Can I pat your legs?" or Would you ask to pet someone's wheelchair?

Person:"It's amazing how they know!"
Handler: "It's amazing you don't realize they're trained and it's not magic."

Person:"Oh I know I shouldn't pat them..."
Handler: "Then why are you?"

Person: "Dog's aren't allowed inside!"
Handler: "Idiots aren't allowed to speak."

Person: *Barking at dogs*
Handler: *take out camera phone and video it for YouTube*

Person: *Taking photos of the dog*
Handler: *Take out camera phone and take photos of them*

Person: *Patting the dog*
Handler: *pat their arm*

Person: *Feeding the dog*
Handler: *shove chocolate in their faces*

Person: *Looking at the DO NOT TOUCH sign as they pat*
Handler: "You must be blinder than I am if you missed the sign!"

Child: Your dog has a saddle. Do you ride her?
Handler: No, I am too big to ride her.
Child: Well, can I?
*as parent looks on and says nothing*

Handler walks past with a red Doberman
Person: That is the DIRTIEST Doberman I have ever seen!

Person "wow that's a really pretty dog,"
Handler: "thanks,"
Person "what breed is she,"
Handler: "German shepherd,"
Person: but she is white,"
Handler: "yes she is a white German shepherd,"
Person " why is she white" or " how did that happen

Child: "Mommy! LOOK! IT'S AIRBUD! HERE BUDDY! HERE BUDDY!"

*While in line at a fast food restaurant:*
Manager: Why the bleep is that dog in MY store??? Get the mangy Mutt out of here or I will call the cops!!!"
Handler: "By all means please do call the cops and make yourself look like a pompous Equus africanus asinus for breaking the state and federal laws"

Handler: enters into the room with my black lab SD
Person: Is that a black lab??
Handler: no she is really a yellow lab. She just needs ao bath.
Person: Really? How often do you bathe her?

Boy pointed at Max, chattering to mom in Spanish. The only word I understood was ” Chihuahua”.
Max is a German Shepherd.

While attending a dress up event, for the purposes of the story, the SD wears a mobility harness, which is what sparked this gem of a conversation. One of the people in a supervisory position to me offered this lovely bit of advice for next year.
Person: "You know, if you wore sunglasses..."
(At this point Handler is silently begging her to not finish the thought because Handler knew exactly where it was going.) "You could just dress up as a blind person!"

Person: Oh, but you don't look blind.
Handler: I'm not. She is for balance.
Person: Oh.

Teenage girl at church: "Your dog is beautiful. It's hard not to pet him. You should put a bag over your dog's head so people aren't tempted to pet him."
Me: "Wouldn't that make it hard for him to retrieve things for me?"
Teenager: "Just poke a mouth hole in the bag."
Me: *stunned that this was even a suggestion from someone*
Manager-type person walks by, sees my dog, and makes a beeline to pet him.
I intercept his hand with a firm, but polite, "Please don't pet him. He's working."
Manager-type person says: "I'm sorry. He was wagging his tail. I'm an animal lover. It won't happen again."

MOP with her child walk in and grab a shopping cart. Mom is telling her child about service dogs and that they help people. "She's working and has a very important job to do," etc. Calls my male dog a "She" at least 6-7 times in her conversation with her daughter.
Me, hoping to be overheard--I tell my dog, "Good boy. You're a good BOY."
Didn't work.
After she left, I turn to my dog and say, "We've got to find a way to make you look more manly, I guess. "

MOP walks in and sees my dog.
MOP: "That's a VERY happy service dog! I see him wagging his tail. Does he get to go outside after he's done working?"
Me: "Yes, he does."
MOP: "That's good. It's a beautiful day outside! I bet he'll really enjoy it after he punches off the clock today."

Person: Is that a german shepherd?
Handler: No, yellow labrador.
Person: I ain't never heard of that. I used to have a black labrador retriever, but he was albino. He looked just like that.
Handler: An albino black labrador retriever?
Person: Yup - they are extremely rare. I ain't seen another around, except this one you got. It's gotta be the same. The guy who was breedin' them told me it was a very rare breed - the albino black lab.
Handler: *smacks their palm to their forehead*

Have one to add? Contact QueenSnappy on the forum.