When Bailey was working, I was often irritated by people distracting him and petting him whilst I needed him to be still and quiet or concentrating on his work.
When he was in harness, it was easier to point out he was working as I had the “please do not distract” flash on his handle but I would usually remove his handle when we were in a place for an extended period of time and occasionally would remove the harness completely so he would be more comfortable.
However, giving the dog comfort was often a cause of another problem. People seem to think that just because a dog is lying down in a restaurant or pub or the theatre that they are not working. I disagree. I need my dog to be calm and quiet, not only for my own peace of mind but without well behaved dogs by our side, we will jeopardise the future of guide dogs being allowed into public areas. Guide dogs and other assistive animals are allowed into public areas because they are so well behaved. If we allow the dogs to step over those boundaries, that could potentially cause problems.
People have argued with me for years that Bailey isn’t working when he’s lying down in restaurants and because I often remove his handle and they cannot see the “please do not disturb me” sign on his handle, they can argue that they didn’t know they were working.
So here’s my idea.
What if we had something we could place on the dogs while they were lying quietly by our feet so the public do not insist on telling us that they are not working when they are.
I envisioned a cape like cloth that went over their backs and fastened under their chin with the same Do Not Disturb me sign printed on it with the Guide Dogs logo. It would be made out of a jersey type material so it’s light and easily can be folded into a bag or pocket.
I also don’t think Guide Dogs should provide these for free but offer them in their online shop to help raise money. It wouldn’t be a necessity but for those of us who want one could purchase one.
This would allow Guide Dog owners to point out the sign to the public even when our dogs are sitting in comfort while we’re in public areas.
That is my idea for Sunday. What do you guys think?