When a service dog is first bought home, it is important that he interact only with his new partner and not be distracted by others. This is primarily for bonding purposes, and so the dog learns who and what to focus on.
Even though I understand this rule because I am a service dog owner, it’s sometimes even hard for me not to ask if I can pet other service dogs because of my own love for dogs in general. “No touching or distracting” is a ‘rule’ that all service dog owners must constantly reinforce with the public.
Here is another story about Laura and Darwin (see my last post) and how she is helping teach others about these stipulations.
(Written by Laura’s grandma)
…The trainers urge all of the clients not to let people pet Darwin because, especially in the early days of being home, he is learning to focus on Laura.
In public, such as a store or at yesterday’s soccer game, people have been understanding. It’s harder, however, when people we like and who are passionate about animals want to pet him. He is such a handsome dog, with an earnest expression and that shiny, silky coat, that people say they just want to hug him. Yesterday (our friend), although completely getting the point, was telling Darwin that she was sad about not being able to hug him and that she was just going to break into the house sometime to give him a huge hug.
Laura disappeared to her room for a few minutes and returned with her 12 inch high, bright red plastic Red Rover puppy from a game. She handed it to (her friend) and said she could pet it. If an adult had done this , or even an older child one could suspect a smart- alecky attitude, but Laura said, “I don’t want you to feel bad.”