What do you say? - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 27 (permalink) Old 11-06-2016, 08:04 PM Thread Starter
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What do you say?

I understand employees asking what service your dog does for you. But what do you say to the general public? That's still kind of personal information. Are you required to answer them with what the dog does for you?
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post #2 of 27 (permalink) Old 11-06-2016, 08:09 PM
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I thought that they can't ask. Which results in people who don't have true service dogs claiming they are service dogs.

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post #3 of 27 (permalink) Old 11-06-2016, 08:10 PM
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I understand employees asking what service your dog does for you. But what do you say to the general public? That's still kind of personal information. Are you required to answer them with what the dog does for you?
My answer ... only as a a member of the "community of responsible dog owners" ... would be that depends on you. If you feel it's "worthwhile" to help educate a given individual then you should feel free to share as much or as little personal information as you see fit.
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post #4 of 27 (permalink) Old 11-06-2016, 08:19 PM Thread Starter
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Employees can ask. I have no problem with them asking, that's their job. But it's the general public. Some dogs are trained if their handler is about to have a panic attack, or PTSD dogs who if the handler starts to have a flashback will guide the handler out of the store or where they are. Generally if I have Demi out for training I say for balance, which she does. I have to have a buggy with me otherwise if the aisles are crowded and tall. But my son shouldn't have to say what she is to the general public. I was the one who trained Demi to separate - the command- once at the commissary when I suddenly was starting to black out. I'm told it was amazing to watch her pull me through the crowd to the door and out. Two vets came with me and made sure I was all right. It's embarrassing. No way to say it isn't. But that's not something you want to say you have, nor should you to the general public. I rarely have a problem, the separate command was not for me, even though I needed it that day. But if the general public asks, what do you say? If you don't answer then it does look like you have a fake service dog. I've been saying I don't have to answer, only to store employees, and as politely as I can. It doesn't go over well.
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post #5 of 27 (permalink) Old 11-06-2016, 08:21 PM Thread Starter
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I was the one who trained Demi to separate - the command- once at the commissary when I suddenly was starting to black out. I'm told it was amazing to watch her pull me through the crowd to the door and out. Two vets came with me and made sure I was all right. It's embarrassing.

Sorry, wrote that wrong. I trained her to the command to separate. But I once had to use it for real.
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post #6 of 27 (permalink) Old 11-06-2016, 09:03 PM
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I don't have a disability, other than a variety of health concerns, that no one can see and for which I do not use a dog. So I don't get this question.

People will ask things that are none of their business, and while you can ignore them or tell them flat out that it is none of your business, I don't think it is helpful to service dogs and their owners in general to promote animosity.

You can use it as a teaching moment, by saying something like, "I'm sorry, the service the dog performs is personal, like health is personal."

I mean, one of the reasons dogs are great for emotional support, is because people can accept complements or converse with perfect strangers when it is about the dog. There is a freedom associated with dogs. You would pet someone's dog much quicker than giving a friendly pat to their kid's head.

Dogs are amazing, and seeing a service dog in person when we have seen them on specials on tv and such, well, they are an attractive nuisance. I saw a special on dogs that sniff out cancer, and I've seen other dogs used for cadavers. Yeah, I would probably ask if I saw a dog in the exam room, is that a medical dog? What does he do? Does he sniff out cancer?

For stangers who have a service dog vest on their dogs, or have a dog in a grocery store, I think most of us have been taught to not pet, and try not to notice, so we don't make people uncomfortable. The thing is, not seeing disabled people is just another way of noticing them and making them uncomfortable. So I don't know.
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post #7 of 27 (permalink) Old 11-06-2016, 09:25 PM
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Employees can ask. I have no problem with them asking, that's their job. But it's the general public. Some dogs are trained if their handler is about to have a panic attack, or PTSD dogs who if the handler starts to have a flashback will guide the handler out of the store or where they are. Generally if I have Demi out for training I say for balance, which she does. I have to have a buggy with me otherwise if the aisles are crowded and tall. But my son shouldn't have to say what she is to the general public. I was the one who trained Demi to - the command- once at the commissary when I suddenly was starting to black out. I'm told it was amazing to watch her pull me through the crowd to the door and out. Two vets came with me and made sure I was all right. It's embarrassing. No way to say it isn't. But that's not something you want to say you have, nor should you to the general public. I rarely have a problem, the separate command was not for me, even though I needed it that day. But if the general public asks, what do you say? If you don't answer then it does look like you have a fake service dog. I've been saying I don't have to answer, only to store employees, and as politely as I can. It doesn't go over well.
Well first let me say ... "sorry you have this issue."

But "separate command??" That is freaking awesome!!!

So the dog was doing that with two "Strangers accompanying the two of you???" Color me freaking impressed!!!!!!!! Man .... that is a "Dog/GSD" to be proud of!!

OK well this info helps to better frame your question. Your dog's demeanor would speak for itself (apparently) and if you feel the need to answer it need not go beyond "PTSD." On a case by case basis if you care to answer. Beyond that your engaging in a futile battle ... kinda like this:


Yes it's easy for me to say "disregard the haters" ...but that is what you need to do. As they say ... "You can't fix stupid!" Some people aren't worth wasting your time on.
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post #8 of 27 (permalink) Old 11-06-2016, 09:37 PM
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I don't think there is anything wrong with saying politely "It's something personal that I really can't discuss, but thanks for your concern." Personally, I would not dream of asking someone why they have a service dog because it's none of my business. The same goes for people who park in handicapped parking spaces. I've seen several things on Facebook lately where people feel entitled to leave nasty notes on cars addressed to people that don't "look" handicapped. People who do this kind of thing are nothing but cowards and you can believe me that I would say it to their face if I ever caught one in the act. Who died and made these people watchdogs for service dog trickery or parking lot police? It's none of their business. (I would underline this if I knew how.) Just assume that the person in question has some disability that you can't see and be done with it.

However, I do think anyone would be perfectly within their rights to complain if a so-called service dog is out of control, endangering other people or being allowed to do things that are not hygienic. That's a completely different story. I also see nothing wrong with asking a business if a dog is in an exam room what the purpose is.
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post #9 of 27 (permalink) Old 11-06-2016, 09:41 PM
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"Is that a service dog"
"What task is the dog trained to perform"

Those are the only questions that are allowed to be asked.... that said, if you cannot explain the dogs training without revealing your disability then you do have that right of privacy but the expectation is that you say so "it's personal and I cannot say without revealing my condition" or "s/he alerts me to a medical condition that I prefer not to reveal" or something like that...
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post #10 of 27 (permalink) Old 11-06-2016, 09:43 PM
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People are so clueless. Would you walk up to someone and ask "why are you in a wheelchair?"

My response is "that's personal and I prefer not to discuss it", at which time people are generally appropriately embarassed and apologetic.

I had a guy walk up to me in a library once, wave his hand in front of my face and say "you're not blind", then to someone ekse "she's not blind!" My husband had words with him lol.
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