This is a story that truly I need to share.. just in case, there are those who have run (and I am sure you have) into the same situation that Ma, Pa and I were part of just a matter of about of 24 hours ago in our local grocery store. Now granted, we have had dirty looks, snide remarks and ultimately even a few comments here and there that have been off-color and otherwise downright humiliating when we are all out together. Some of which I haven’t gone into yet just because in most cases, it was truly the idea that the “attack” was either due to uneducated employees for ADA laws as well as even a few people who freaked out due to “allergies” to dogs or even childhood trauma that involved a dog. But in this case, I have to say that I could feel and see the strain that rushed across my Ma’s face and truly put my Pa (who is blind) at complete odds with the man who decided that verbally attacking us was going to put his in his position in which he wanted to remove us from the store, and for anyone else who was within hearing distance. I encouraged Ma to write a letter to the elderly gentleman who truly didn’t even deserve the educational blip that Ma always tries to educate other people who do not know how to act around the dogs, let alone the people who are truly fearful of them.Here is the letter:
Here is the letter:
Dear Elderly ole’ Man who has nothing to do but harass the disabled,
Your visit to Smith’s Market in the SW area of my city was welcomed but I am so glad that I was the only one who had no interaction with you. I was having a beautiful day, even if Bear (aka Pa) and I were attempting to fill our cabinets with food and to get out as soon as possible. After having visited this store 100’s of times with both my Katana and her predecessor Sampson, I have never been harassed by employee’s let alone the patrons and that is the one reason I have felt soo safe going to this store to shop for what I need. There is always that one person who seems to attack and otherwise make snide remarks due to the idea that there is a large 100lb Mastiff standing next to me, helping me keep balance as well as giving me a steadier sense of mobility and continues to be that extra helping hand when I am unable to bend over to pick up items off the floor and even keep me from having a full-blown attack that would bring even more attention to myself …something I do not want or need.
I was having a beautiful day, even if Bear (aka Pa) and I were attempting to fill our cabinets with food and to get out as soon as possible. After having visited this store 100’s of times with both my Katana and her predecessor Sampson, I have never been harassed by employee’s let alone the patrons and that is the one reason I have felt soo safe going to this store to shop for what I need. There is always that one person who seems’s to stop me and ask questions, most of which are a repeat of others who ultimately want or need to know some of the in’s and outs of the legal responsibilities for the dogs that are used for service dogs. Because there IS NO CERTIFICATION for service dogs, I find it harder to explain to them the tests, training and extensive evaluations that are given by multiple trainers (as well as myself) that will give her the temperament of a calm and cool K9. In this case, Katana has over 3 AKC CGC™ (Canine Good Citizenship) certificates and has passed with flying colors. She only has one more to take, but because of health reasons on Ma’s part, it has been put on hold for a few more weeks so that we can be sure our evaluator is able to do her evaluation.
As you stood there, staring at my dog for over 3-4minutes refusing to move your cart, and I was very courteous about asking you to move so that I could get to the items that you were blocking, you insisted that the “dog” was the issue and how vicious my animal was and he was afraid to move in fear for your life. First and foremost, at this point, my dog hadn’t even paid you much head let alone barked NOR growled at you. I surely was aware that this point you were staring at my dog (something the tag on her vest says NOT to do is gain Eye Contact with her)… This can be a cue for a dog to do one of two things, play or a challenge that can set some canines off into an aggressive stance. But the words that left your mouth was astounding to me and started the hackles on my neck up on end.
“Sir, could you please excuse me, I do need to get to the cheese that you are in front of.”
“I was just looking at your vicious dog there… I have no intention of moving until I know I am safe.”
“Sir, truly, she is a service dog and have many hundred’s of hours training and passing her through AKC certification tests that prove her temperament is not at all what you think she is. She would rather lick you to death than to take a chunk out of you. It’s not in her nature UNLESS you are aggressive towards her or my family. She has not been challenged on that level ever, and I don’t want her to stop so please move on and allow me to finish my shopping.”
“Yeah, everyone says that…” as he started to move forward slightly giving me the room needed to reach for what I wanted.
As he walked off, Bear made a statement, “Do you take us as morons? What kind of person would bring in a violent or aggressive dog into a public environment and risk not only hurting others but hurting themselves?”
“Get in line!” said the old coot.
At this point, Ma was shaking. I couldn’t tell whether it was because she
The elderly man’s sarcastic response was enough to send me off as the conversation continued to go something like this:
Pa: You do realize it’s ass****s like you that ruin the day for people like us who use an animal such as this to have normal lives.
Ma: You know, it’s people like you that have very much turned my head to the teachings that taught me to ‘respect my elders’ but in this case, you have tested me, and the theory in which that you deserve any type of respect I hope you feel better, harassing two people who are both disabled and ultimately have a K9 assistance animal that will make our lives more fulfilling and more normal. I could care less of your opinion of my K9 as I assure you, I wouldn’t let her nor you touch her with a 20′ foot pole.
But as he started to move and Katana and I decided to slide behind him to get what I wanted from the shelf his right hand with a balled up fist swung backward missing my dog by a foot, and my husband by not much more. He outright went to the physical attack mode directed at my dog and I have to say that if I had had the mind to, and he connected his fist to either my dog or my husband, he would have struggled to walk out of the grocery store under his own power.
I will say, I may not be muscular, strong, or trained in any of the plethora’s of martial arts, but a good old’ boxing match would have ensued at that point. I TRULY love the elderly, but in this case, I find that this man was impossible, and if anything violent towards my dog, my husband and myself by harassing us. By the time I had thought to follow him, with my cell phone dialing 911 to get the assault on record, it was a situation in which it would have been too late.
After losing him in the store, we quickly got out ourselves, checked out, and decided that we are not being stalked by a 70+-year-old man that obviously had issues with (service) dogs and their handlers. I know I am not the only one that has ultimately found very little conflict in my past, but I am sure that it won’t be the last, and would LOVE to hear some stories from those who have had something similar happen to them.Please, feel free to write me information how you handled the problem and what you feel you could have done without or done with to educate them OR even to get them to turn their heads and make them think twice about harassing other handlers.
I love the elderly, and after being raised by my grandparents, I have a soft spot in my heart to those that I meet and I enjoy the stories and antidotes that they give me to make me smile… but in his case, I truly hope that I am not so grouchy, and gruff that people find me less valuable than they do valuable. I can only hope that at some point, someone who is afraid of dogs, or is not a dog lover that the best way to get through an uncomfortable situation is to WALK AWAY SILENTLY…. it truly makes the individuals, including the K9, more relieved in which we can all be better for because as my grandparents taught me, “If you don’t have anything good to say, don’t say anything at all!”