On Wednesday, May 29, 2016 I was on the side of a rather busy West End Avenue and having difficulty with my Registered Seeing Eye Dog. She had decided that it was a good day to start sniffing the ground and move in a manner that was most definitely not safe for either of us. Why was it not safe? “She was playing around right on the white line that divides the shoulder of the road from the lane of oncoming traffic.” But, “It gets better!”
I leash corrected her at least five times over the course of an eighth mile before finally getting a bit more hands on with the correction that put an end to the behavior. It wasn’t a violent correction and didn’t even involve an open handed cuff under the chin. But, it was firm and effective none the less.
What I finally ended up doing to get my lady to stop screwing around was to bend down in front of her, grab her by the loose skin on either side of her head just behind the ears, and pull her forward and slightly upwards So that we were nose to nose. As I did this I told her to, “Knock it off.”
However, as we resumed travel again some genius in a truck stops and tells me, “You don’t have to abuse him you know.” At that point it was rather amazing to me that this idiot would have the balls to make such a statement; not to mention the fact that he clearly had no trouble stopping his truck dead in traffic to reprimand me.
Needless to say; I had no desire to stand there on a busy road with no sidewalks and talk with him about the ways and means regarding Dog Guide training. So, I told him pretty firmly, “You know? I don’t really think it is any of your business,” before walking away.
I don’t know who this dude was and nor do I really care. I did note that the vehicle he was driving sounded strangely like a Newton NJ Post Office mail truck.
But I wasn’t one-hundred percent certain that it was a Newton NJ mail truck. If I was then I probably would have called the Newton NJ Postmaster and asked them to fire the guy for potentially inflaming a situation that he had no business opening his mouth about in the first place.
“Anyhow,” as we move right along with the story here… I get down the road a bit and my girl finally does make a sudden hard left to take a leak on someone’s front lawn less than twenty yards from High Street. No sniffing around on the white line this time. So, her action was acceptable.
“Now,” this situation is a perfect example of public stupidity for two different reasons.
- This situation is a perfect example of how most people haven’t a clue as to what constitutes abuse. I wasn’t hanging my dog by the leash or even swinging her around my head at the end of it. Nor was she crying in pain when I got in her face; holding her by the loose skin on either side of her head just behind the ears to perform the action already described above.
- This situation demonstrates how people could care less if I get seriously injured so long as the dog is ok. This is not the first time I’ve heard people in the general public scream abuse over something as necessary as a leash correction. There are a lot of people out there who don’t care if a Dog Guide has done something that could have had catastrophic ramifications if left unchecked; adding to the danger themselves by interfering with the dog and their handler on a busy road or intersection.
“Now,” to be fair: there are lots of people out there who do abuse animals, even service dogs. So, to some extent, the general public should be concerned about abuse.
However, if you are going to be a whistle blower or animal activist, you are going to have to know the facts about what actually constitutes abuse. This might actually mean that you pick up a training manual; familiarizing yourself with acceptable techniques used for keeping an animal in check, or to teach them something knew.
“Also!” Interfering with a Seeing Eye Dog and its handler comes with legal consequences in The State Of New Jersey and a growing number of other states, as well. So, you will want to have your facts together before making any kind of accusation regarding the handling of a service dog, especially if you are one who feels they have to intervene.
You do not have the right to accuse anyone of any kind of abuse solely based upon your own opinion. You may not like certain training techniques, or the manner in which a handler sees fit to discipline an animal. However, unless you are dead certain that someone is abusing their dog, “You might just want to keep your mouth shut.”