During the week between Portland and Kati’s arrival, Hope was essentially my service dog. Everywhere I went, she came along. It is important for service dogs to make daily community outings to maintain their skills. Service dogs don’t stay home. I have become comfortable taking her to every possible setting: the grocery store, the gym, yoga, date night, you name it. For the most part, people don’t have a big reaction. Most people see the dog in the pack (vest) and they know it is a working dog. Of course, that doesn’t stop them from asking if they can pet her (no, not when she is working). It’s funny, kids seem to get this better than adults. Kids are ok with the boundaries if you explain them. Adults want to find a way to sneak in a pat or a hand sniff while they have you distracted in conversation.
On Saturday night, we went to dinner with Kati and a couple of friends. Of course, Hope came along. We went to a bar for drinks before dinner and Hope navigated the crowd before curling up underneath the cocktail table where we sat. Things seemed pretty easy until a woman with a very thick Texas accent came up to our table. I had no idea who she was at first. Eventually, I figured out that she was the manager. The conversation went something like this:
Manager: “Hi y’all. I want to tell you that I just love dogs.”
Me: “Well, so do we!”
Manager: “Well, I do. I just love dogs, but you can’t have that dog in here.”
Me: “Oh, no, it’s fine. She is a service dog.”
Manager: “I’m sure you’re right. I absolutely believe you and I love dogs, but she can’t be here in this restaurant.”
Kati: “She is a certified service dog and the Federal and State laws say that she is allowed in any public place.”
(This is when I start groping for the ID tag in the pocket of Hope’s pack. It has the federal law printed on the back.)
Manager: “Well, that’s fine, but the health code says that I can’t have animals in here.”
Me: (As I hand her the card) “Federal law overrides local health codes. Here, you can read the law on this card.”
(She take the card and reads it, saying “uh huh” every 3 seconds.
Manager: “Oh, ok. So she CAN be here?”
Manager: “So, I’m not going to get in trouble? Because I love dogs…probably even more than you do.” (She directed that last comment at Kati, so I think she is probably incorrect there.) “Well, ok. I guess she can stay if y’all promise I won’t get in trouble.
Me: I promise
Manager: Ok. Y’all have a good night.
That’s about the most public resistance I’ve experienced. It was entertaining. Every other place has been welcoming without questions. I actually think that she enhances the enjoyment of everyone around her. Who could be in a foul mood with a big, fuzzy, black dog hanging around? I really think her peaceful demeanor is contagious.