Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Rough Day

super close up shot of Alfie's face & nose in front of a blue background; his head is lying on the floor and he's wearing a glum look

It's been a long time since a business has tried to deny us access.  Today, to make up for it, we were challenged twice in one day...at the same place!

We were at the post office getting ready to mail a package and as we waited in line, a postal employee came out and announced loudly:  "Miss, you'll have to take your dog outside."  I politely pointed out that he was a guide dog in training, and the guy just sort of went back to wherever he came from, not bothering to reply.  I went on with my business and the folks at the counter were courteous as usual...after all, Alfie was in his work uniform and I've been taking various pups in training to the post office for a long time now! 
As it turned out, we had to go back again later on in the afternoon.  This time a different man told me firmly that dogs were not allowed inside.  Again keeping my tone polite and cheerful as possible (despite the knot in my stomach -- I hate confrontation!), I pointed out that he was a guide dog in training.  The postal employee replied, "Well, are you blind?"  I responded that no, I wasn't blind, but I was his trainer and then offered to show him my ID badge and a copy of the Texas state law which grants access to service dogs in training (it's actually printed on the reverse of my badge and boy, was I happy I had it!)  Again, he just sort of grunted and went on with his business, never answering me.  Sigh!!  I was allowed to stay, but I admit it gave me an unpleasant feeling.

As I waited, though, a nice gentleman in front of me in line turned around and gave me an explanation for what was happening.  He said that he'd been in the post office last week when a man brought in a dog and claimed it to be his service dog.  Some kind of incident ensued, and the customer said the dog's handler wound up angry and cursing everyone, making a huge scene. It probably didn't help that the dog in question was a large pit bull...I really wasn't sure if the dog was behaving badly, or just his master!  At any rate, it has my local post office turned against me.  Rats!

That really made me sad, and illustrates how the poor behavior of one dog and/or its handler can have such a negative effect on those of us who have a legitimate reason for bringing a well-behaved service dog (working or training!) into a public area.  It's such an important part of a puppy's training to get used to all kinds of surroundings and all kinds of people, and this is something you can only do (in my opinion, and the opinion of our school) by working the dog in public environments.  At the same time, it's a huge responsibility not only to train the dog, but to make sure it is well-behaved and not an annoyance to people in public...a responsibility I take seriously! 

 How did Alfie take all this?  He behaved perfectly, following every command.  But I could tell he felt my tension.  He scarcely took his eyes off me.  After all that, we ended the day on an "up" note with a trip to the library, which is like visiting the Alfie Fan Club.  Hooray for friendly faces!


Becky said...

Those experiences always take me back ... sounds like you handled it well. The incident the week before definitely takes a toll on those who are bringing guide dogs and puppies -- frustrating. Alfie, glad you ended your day at a place with a fan club!

Lauren and Don said...

Oh no! So sorry to hear that happened to you- that makes for a very rough day. I hate it when that happens. I can't believe how rude some people can be about puppies in training. I totally agree- It's sad when one bad experience prevents other service dogs or in training dogs from gaining that socialization experience.

I hope they'll be more welcoming next time, after seeing what a good boy Alfie is! Just remember that you helped educate the public (and an ignorant postal employee...) about guide dogs- and I bet seeing such a well behaved puppy in training showed the customers how awesome service dogs are!!

The Rhoton Family said...

I hate confrontation as well! Glad everything turned out okay! Give Alfie and scratch for me :)

Mimi and CC Cabana said...

So sorry you had to deal with that twice! After all, going to the post office even without a dog can be a patience challenger!

Your post reminds me of my Tuesday Topic yesterday. Sad that one bad experience can ruin public perception in a heartbeat. But one good experience mends a lot of damage--and it sounds like Alfie contributed a lot of great PR yesterday!

Ruby's Raiser said...

You know, I have heard this more than once about the post office, even without that previous incident to make matters more difficult. I'm sorry you had to deal with it. Kudos to Alfie for handling it so well and keeping calm and focused on you in a stressful situation. Not our favorite type of training situation, but a very valuable one nonetheless!

Michelle said...

please send me the address of your local post office, i will send out our customary letter:)

if you can get your postmaster's name that would be great

you ALWAYS handle that so well, i appreciate your tact, which i lack so often!!


Alphini's Puppy Raiser said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Alphini's Puppy Raiser said...

Thanks everyone!

Michelle, I'll send you that info - THANK YOU for the backup! I really appreciate it, especially since this isn't a place I can just stop going to!