This video was posted a few years ago, but I just found it.
It’s so difficult for the partner of a service dog to eliminate distractions and convince the public that the beautiful creature in the vest isn’t just a pet and, while working, shouldn’t be approached without permission.
One person with MS, who relies on her service dog, described her solution. She has three sons and, if they are available, she takes them with her when she and her dog go out in public. One walks ahead of the dog and the other two walk at her sides. This may sound extreme, but it illustrates a common problem.
Another of my MS friends has a problem of interaction between her dog and her family. Everyone wants to love the dog and treat him as a pet. The solution is fairly simple: when the dog is dressed for work, leave him alone. Otherwise, love him and play with him. When she complained to me, all I could say was “think about how much worse it would be if your husband didn’t like the dog.”
Working with service dogs isn’t always straightforward and easy, but is so worth it. Each human partner must figure out what works. Sometimes a smile and a warning are enough. Explain to the offender that the dog is working and can’t be distracted. The more people we encounter and educate, the better it will be for the service dog community.