Over the last few years, I have had many frustrating encounters with people who don’t understand that, “No, your child may not pet my dog,” means not at all. When I say no to letting their child pet my dog, I am trying to protect both my dog and their child. Daisy, my dog, will get very nervous should anyone approach us and she doesn’t like it when strangers touch her. Daisy has never bitten anyone and I don’t think she would but she was attacked as a puppy by a much a larger dog, then the owner yelled at us and now she has anxiety.
When we were at a park most recently, several children ran up from behind us and demanded to pet my dog. Since she was already nervous about the children startling us, I said, “No thank you but thank you for asking.” We tried to keep on our walk but the children were insisting they be allowed to pet Daisy because their mom said it was ok. My response was a firm no. “Daisy is my dog not your mom’s,” I told them.
The mom came over to argue with me as well, because she didn’t understand why I wouldn’t let her kids pet my dog when she gave permission. The refusal to except no is really frustrating to me. If someone gets in my dog’s face and pulls on her ears or overwhelms her, she could respond in a negative way that could result in being sued or even losing her, because she could be impounded and put to sleep.
It’s a bigger problem, though, than just wanting people to respect other people’s pets’ space. People have a lack of regard for service dogs and the space they need to do their job. A human life could literally be on the line as many service dogs are trained to detect low blood sugars or impending seizures, a distraction could cause serious harm to the dog’s handle.
Mary Frey of the “Frey Life” YouTube channel has had her service dog, Oliver, kicked by a child. Interaction like that can actually be the reason service dogs go into early retirement, which means the owner of the service dog would be without a service dog for several years while a new dog is trained and at great cost, from $7,000-$20,000 depending on what type of service the dog performs.
It is really important to treat strangers’ dogs with respect, for your own safety. Always ask for permission if you want to pet someone’s dog and accept that no may be the answer. Petting a stranger’s dog is a privilege and not a right.
Jessica is in the Digital Arts program and previously graduated with an AA in Liberal Arts and a Bakery Certificate. She enjoys cooking, hiking with her dog, Daisy, taking pictures and spending time with her family.