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Jim, Volunteer Mentor (@jimhd)

The value of an animal

Depression & Anxiety | Last Active: May 31, 2021 | Replies (77)

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Regarding telling people not to approach your pet…maybe it would be helpful to think of this as an opportunity to help a pet lover understand your dog is a trained service dog taught avoid everyone else but you. I so agree that a dog lover will totally understand. I know it might be hard to say this but in a way you have a kind of nice opportunity to help others understand. Also, maybe that other person never even considered dogs are trained for this purpose.

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Replies to "Regarding telling people not to approach your pet...maybe it would be helpful to think of this..."


I had a kind of weird experience a few days ago. A man asked if he could pet Sadie, I explained my reason for saying no. He told me that he has a brother who trains service dogs in Hawaii. Then he sat down and talked to her and started petting her. I was at the hospital lab, waiting for blood work and a chest x-ray because I had the influenza B. I decided not to say anything because it was apparent that he may not have had the mental ability to understand.

I’ve gotten better at declining over the years. I guess I’ve educated a few people.

It’s pretty clear that people often know the don’t pet rule, but mostly they don’t get the reason, because they go on engaging her. At that point, I give Sadie a tug on the leash to get her attention back on me. Another signal for her is patting my leg. Sometimes I will move her around to the other side of me. When all else fails, I get up and move away from them.

I’m a shy person and unlikely to initiate a conversation with strangers, so Sadie helps me be less isolated. Isolating is what a depressed person does. I just want to be left alone, but having a service dog at my side almost always draws comments and conversation, which is sometimes ok, but not always.

I wish Cesar Milan could be heard by everyone. His words are no touch, no talk, no eye contact. I think he has one more, but those are the ones I remember. People just don’t understand that Sadie is supposed to be focused on me, and talking to her moves her attention away from me. That’s not as vitally important to me, but it could be if the dog is trained for seizures or respiratory alert.

It’s a challenge to train a dog to be alert to only one person, then when you go out in public, people seem to be intent on getting the dog’s attention distracted. I like to hear people compliment Sadie, and a lot of the time I can keep their focus on me and what I have to say. I always thank people who ask to pet. My answer is always the same, but I appreciate people’s courtesy.

I’m rambling, as usual, aren’t I?


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