Cura and I have been together since 2009. We want to thank all of you who followed the early days as well as those who popped back on occasion during the long hiatus. Training was done, the days passed, and we were settling into our life together.
Fast forward: Cura is slowing down and a new member of the family is in training. On top of that, we are all busy with our new calling . . . Running the Training Department for Paws and Stripes. Join us on our journey!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

ADBC: Reactions

Once again I find myself with no posts since the last ADBC! Things have been very busy and I have lots to share, but today I am going to chat a bit about "reactions". When I heard about the topic this time, a number of ideas came to mind -- many of which I have already blogged about to some degree or another. But, I like to use the carnival themes as a tool for touching on something completely new or at least on something old from a fresh perspective.

To that end, I have decided to talk about reactions that take place while Cura and I are out doing our daily activities. No . . . not Cura's reactions to other people or her surroundings. No . . . not other people's reactions to seeing a Service Dog. Each of these are very diverse and I have actually written several posts on the various situations that we have experienced.

Today, I want to talk about MY reactions to the people I encounter while I am out with Cura. These, too, have been very diverse in the past. However, very recently, it was brought home to me how routine my reactions to others have become as a general rule.  Now that is not to say that I am never phased by the excitement, lack of knowledge, down right rudeness, and everything in between that is frequently part of our day out -- of course I am some of the time (usually because I am being faced with something completely new and have not yet worked out the various ways I will respond to that particular question or action depending on my mood).  But, I did not realize how automated my responses had become until I traveled to visit a friend that I had not seen in years -- well before Cura became part of my life.

We were out and about and she turned to me and said something along the lines of "Is it always like this?"  My response:  kind of a blank stare because I had no idea what she was talking about.  Apparently, she had been noticing how many times I was asked questions about Cura, she was talked to or pet by strangers (no, I was not asked or even acknowledged most of the time, and  how many "Look Mommy, its a DOGGIE!!" were screeched in our vicinity.  That doesn't even COUNT the times I avoided situations by either switching Cura to another side so I was between her and strangers or just diverted our path to avoid excited people.

Most of the time I am very patient with people who approach me because I have a Service Dog, but I must admit that there are times when it is very disruptive and inconvenient having to address these constant interruptions to my day.  Here I am, trying to navigate through my day and everywhere I go, I am approached by complete strangers to discuss my dog.  Now, don't get me wrong . . . I LOVE talking about Cura!  But not when I am trying to go to the pharmacy or pick up groceries.

I didn't realize that I had gotten so adept at handling these situations -- I mean I hadn't even really noticed all of the interruptions that day --it was so like a normal day that I was not really phased.  I even used to wonder why things always seemed to take such an excessively long time to get done.  Well now I know!

Maybe I need to rethink how I deal with strangers approaching me.  I certainly do not wish to be rude -- after all, I want people to have positive associations with Service Dogs.  I think it makes it easier for others with Assistance Dogs.  But, at the same time, I can't just stop and chat every time I am approached.  Even if I don't mind being friendly (which is usually the case unless I find that person just plain rude), I don't have the luxury of chatting with everyone who wants to tell me about their dog or wants to know why I need a Service Dog "because you're not blind".  I'm thinking of making up some cards that I can just had out to people -- maybe that will help . . .