Let’s be honest, what dog lover sees an eight-week-old lab and doesn’t want to rush over to pet its sweet little face? I would have too, but that changed when my college roommate decided to apply to raise a puppy. After a formal interview at our house, my roommate came home with a tiny ball of yellow fur, a lab/golden retriever mix named Larimer. Lari was sweet, dopey, and a huge responsibility. You might think being able to take your puppy to class and to the movies is awesome, but there are lots of scenarios you don’t think about.
UGA has a huge campus, and sometimes you only have 15 minutes to make it across the campus, which is further hindered by a 20 pound puppy that has decided his legs no longer work and he absolutely must lay flat on his belly in the middle of the cross walk. Yes, more times than I can count I carried that doofus in the 90-degree heat across campus, because apparently walking is hard. It’s also not fun when you’re trying to meet people at a movie, and your now 80 pound puppy sees someone he knows at the back of the theater and bolts from your hand, practically jumping over people to get to the very back row. People at the theater were not as understanding as you might think. Or when your puppy poops in the middle of the student-learning center. Yes, that happened too, more than once
“Yes, that happened too, more than once.”
This is the thing most people don’t think about when they encounter these irresistible puppies in the yellow vests; one of the most important parts of this process is that the dog learns when it’s time to work and when it’s time to play. When that vest is on, it’s work time. No distractions. No pit stops. Why? Because if that dog is going to lead a blind person across the street, it can mean life or death that the dog knows when it’s time to work. And while one person petting a puppy is not the end of the world, every moment of reinforcement helps the dog to know when it’s time to be serious, and all of us, as dog owners and lovers, should respect that.
What do you do when you encounter a service-dog-in-training? Share below: