teach your dog tricks, not mine!

I absolutely adore the public, mostly! However, I had a few things happen yesterday which I feel need bringing to attention.
I was fundraising yesterday in one of the big supermarkets in Cardiff. (I’ll give you a clue, it has a C in it)!!
On three separate occasions I was absolutely taken aback by the audacity of people!
Firstly, I don’t like to be one of those guide dog owners who slates members of the public, I’m not that person and it’s not in my nature.
But what happened yesterday was very annoying and could have potentially lead to my dog being taken away from me.
Firstly, I was getting ready to fundraise and James was bouncing around happily. He is a 2 year old male Labrador and there was a 7 year old female dog there. So, James uttered a series of high-pitched barks.
“Ooo, he shouldn’t bark like that!” harrumphed a woman.
“But he is a dog, and they bark! Strange I know, but a guide dog is still a dog.”
The thig is, some people seem to think that once a dog has been given a title, they should be perfect in every way.
Secondly, a lady spent about ten minutes telling me how she sponsored a guide dog.
I thanked her, and thought how well we were getting on.
“Give me your paw,” she suddenly said.
“No James,” I said.
“I’m only telling him to give me his paw!” said the lady indignantly.
“Why?” I asked.
“He’s a guide dog. Please don’t try to teach him things like that!”
“Oh, sorry!” she said, and left (no doubt to cancel her sponsorship forthwith)!
This happened four times with four different people.
After the fourth time I snapped.
“If you teach him to do that, he’ll think it’s OK, then if he puts his paws up on a child and knocks them over, he could cause serious damage! Then, we’d end up in court quicker than you can say Labrador!” Thank you so much for sponsoring a guide dog, but they’re not meant to do that!” I wanted to add: “Now go away and do your shopping!” but I didn’t.
Everyone else was delightful.
But I just want people to be aware that guide dogs have one owner. James has only been with me for 7 months, and has to listen to commands from me, and only me.
OK, if he’s about to run into the road/jump in a river/devour a small child, by all means step in (although I don’t blame you if you hesitate for the latter, depending on the child)!
Little things like trying to teach a guide dog tricks can not only set the dogs training back months, but it is also unkind to do this in front of someone who can’t see what you’re doing.
So, by all means keep sponsoring, you’re a total darling for doing so and I cannot express my gratitude enough, but keep the tricks for your own dog.

You can follow my adventures with James and Chelly at:
http://www.twitter.com/nickiandchelly

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