September is National Service Dog Month, to show our appreciation for these hard-working canines, the VetMeasure team wanted to provide some pointers on how to interact with service dogs in public. We consulted with Melody Goodspeed and Daisy, her seeing-eye dog, for this article. Melody lost her vision in her 20s but didn’t let that slow her down, she currently lives near D.C. with her husband and their two children. Melody’s enthusiasm and infectious joy spreads to all those she meets. Daisy gives Melody the confidence to be independent, move quickly, and is a comfort in unfamiliar environments. This pair live by a “work hard, play hard” philosophy; when they are not working Daisy loves to play fetch, have puppy play dates, and go swimming. Here are a few tips Melody shared for interacting with service dogs in public.
- Acknowledge the Handler. Remember that there is a person at the end of the leash! While it is important to ignore the dog, feel free to start up a conversation with the handler.
- Ask Permission. Never pet a service dog or give them treats, without direct permission from the handler. If you are not granted permission do not be offended, the dog has a job to do!
- Avoid talking to the Dog. Yelling the dog’s name or saying, “I can’t talk to you” in a happy, high pitched voice are both distractions. Melody shares that this is especially dangerous at a street corner, because even if Melody gives the cue to cross, Daisy must decide if it is an appropriate time to start walking.
- Watch your Dog. If you pass a service dog while walking your dog, it is important to keep your dog close to you. If you anticipate your dog may pull towards or bark at the service dog, consider crossing the street. This is not the time for a play date.
Monitoring the health of a service dog is especially important as their hard work allows their handlers to live life more independently and confidently. The MeasureON! harness tracks your dog’s overall well-being through recording their temperature, pulse, and respiratory rate. Our harness alerts owners if their dog’s biometrics exceed specified parameters, which can indicate stress or illness. While dogs are great at communicating with their owners and handlers, the MeasureOn! harness eliminates the guesswork in what they are trying to tell us.
To learn more about Leader Dogs for the Blind click HERE!
Photo: Melody is wearing a multi-colored dress, looking at the camera, holding Daisy’s leash. Daisy, a yellow lab, is wearing a harness and looking towards the left.