Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Why shouldn't I pet the assistance dog?

I didn't see why petting an assistance dog is such a bad thing. I can understand why you shouldn't pet them when they are guiding their owner (that could cause a collision!), but when they are just sitting or not doing anything, surely it can't hurt.

Can it?

I can understand why some people feel the need to make a fuss over assistance dogs.

However, through recent conversations with assistance dog users I have discovered that the dogs are often still working even when they are apparently resting.

When they are walking they may be guiding - but even when stationary they may be assisting with balance.

They may need to be ready alert to medical conditions (such as high or low blood sugar, or the early signs of a seizure) or to sounds such as a telephone or a baby crying.

They may need to be ready to pick up things that have been dropped or fetch items, or any one of a huge number of other things a dog can be trained to do.

And even if they currently have no specific task to do, disrupting their concentration can mean it takes a long time for them to refocus- making them unable to work when they are needed.

So I, for one, will be making sure I don't put an assistance dog user at risk by interacting with their dog. I can always ask permission - but if it is not given I will leave the dog alone.

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