Enough for One Day...and it's only noon

WARNING: I'm about to rant. If you'd rather not hear it, kindly click here for something more cheerful.

This morning, I took Cabana for our usual morning walk. She was her usual spunky self. But after we passed a quick succession of about 5-6 off-leash dogs (off-leash dogs make her WAY more excited because she knows she can lure them easier than leashed dogs), Cabana got a bit upset at me for not allowing her to meet-and-greet them all. She pirouetted and pulled, tried to bite on her leash, and even let out a single bark of frustration. I made Cabana sit so she would desist, and she did.

At that moment, a woman walker rounded the corner. Evidently having witnessed the tail-end of Cabana's tantrum, she chided me, "YOU have to be the leader." She didn't wag her finger at me, but she didn't need to--it was implied in her tone. I felt like handing her Cabana's leash and saying, "Here, show me how it's done."

But I said nothing and walked on.

Later in the morning, Cabana and I went to a grocery store. Another woman came up to us, and without even glancing at me, she immediately bent down and started petting Cabana. Quite irritating!! I thought about telling her politely, "It's best if you ask before you pet someone's dog." But Cabana was sitting nicely while the woman was petting her, and I wasn't really in the mood to engage, so I figured I'd let the lady get her kicks and move on.

But instead of moving on, the woman looked at me and said in a disapproving tone, "Don't you think it's time for this dog to stop wearing that Gentle Leader?" All kinds of thoughts went through my head. First of all, I didn't know there was any sort of age limit on wearing a head collar, and secondly, it was evident that this woman didn't really have a clue what she was talking about. I just said, "Oh no, she definitely needs to be wearing it," and I walked on, starting to seeth inside. After all, WHO was the one deserving a reprimand here? Grrrrr.....

Her comment didn't make much sense to me, but I knew what she was really saying: "Why do you make your sweet little dog wear that horrible thing, you horrible person, you." Unfortunately, I've fielded many similar accusations made regarding Cabana's head collar, comments made both overtly and "in disguise".

Most days, little incidents like this just roll off my back. They don't irk me in the least. But today, I'm all out of nice--I've had all the public scrutiny and free advice I can handle. Sure, I know it goes with the territory, since all puppy raisers get more than their fair share of it. Yes, people are generally well-meaning--but can't they go mean well somewhere else?!

Mandy and Terence  – (September 9, 2009 at 2:06 PM)  

Well it sounds like the first lady has been watching too much of The Dog Whisperer!

And you have to give the second lady props for at least knowing what a gentle leader is and not just assuming it's a muzzle :)

I hate days like this - we all have them, for sure.

Have you gotten any of the "oh you're dog's much too (hyper/friendly/timid) to be a guide dog" comments yet? Who knew there were so many experts out there!!!

I try to look at it this way - for every dumb comment like the ones you described, I get a least 5 or 6 people thank me for what a wonderful thing I'm doing or admiring my well behaved pup. All in all, not a bad mix - keeps me humble.

Cabana's Puppy Raiser  – (September 9, 2009 at 2:27 PM)  

THANK YOU for giving me some perspective, Mandy! Boy did I need it. Your comments were really helpful. It's true, a lot of people ARE appreciative and complimentary, and it helps to be reminded of that.

I thought the same thing about the first lady--too many episodes of The Dog Whisperer!

Natalie  – (September 9, 2009 at 3:16 PM)  

You know what I would do.. Next time are having a bad day, stick in an ipod and some headphones.. or just headphones and hide the end of the cord in your pocket so its secret ;) That way you can "ignore" everyone's comments like you never even heard them. It just might work, never know.. I don't have a puppy yet (will get one hopefully in January) but We have had plenty of comments on my boyfriend's guide dog that don't make us the happiest and I try to ignore them in the nicest way possible.

Just today, we were at the grocery store and wanted to just get in and out so he just hung on to the cart and had her heel behind him. This lady out of no where comes up and says something about how depressed she looks and goes on and on.. He was about ready to punch her. (He is very sensitive about Egypt lol) So, I just told him to ignore it.

Well, hope your next day is better!

Lisa and Ellie  – (September 9, 2009 at 3:58 PM)  

Oh days like this are the worst!!!! Glad you kept your cool through it all though and saved your venting for those that could truly understand! :D I agree with Mandy though! :D Just think - tomorrow Cabana will be awesome...

Mitch and Meade  – (September 9, 2009 at 4:45 PM)  

OOG!!! That bugs me! I could probably rant with you for days on end!! But I'll try not to! :D I totally hate it when someone tells me how to raise my puppy, I know they mean well, but it makes me want to shove the puppy raising manual in their face!!! It is good that the lady knew what a head collar was but petting the dog without asking thing was totally rude!! People at school do that with Meade and when I ask them to stop (politely, of course!) They act like I offended them in the most serious of ways!! People have even said I was an animal abuser because I don't let people pet him! I mean, come on!!! He is working!! His jacket isn't just a fashion statement, he is working when he has it on!! And then what Mandy said! I HATE it when people are telling me my dog is unfit to guide!!! Do they not realize that he is a puppy? Puppies like to play and run! And we are training them to stop that (in public)!! TRAINING!!! It doesn't magically happen (I wish it did!)!!! GAH! Before I had Meade when I was puppy sitting a puppy I took her to church and people were telling me she was to small and whatnot! Grrr....

On a lighter note! At least the day is almost done! And if you made it through MY rant, I applaud you!

Addie, Ggoody, and Llarson  – (September 9, 2009 at 5:06 PM)  

I know the kind of days you are talking about. This summer I took Llarson to Costco and he very well behaved especially for his first time in Costco. Part of Llarson's training is to learn to explore and be curious. This includes "hupping" which means Llarson jumps up and puts his front legs are up on a surface so he can use his nose to smell the top of the counter, box, etc. Well we walked down an aisle filled with giant boxes with vacuums and such (non food items or anything Llarson would disturb) and I told Llarson to "hup" on a box and he did. I praised him heavily for it when this man came up to me and said, "That dog needs more training." Also making reference to his vest which says "in training" on it. I just shrugged the comment off and walked away.

I hope tomorrow goes better for you, but just as Mandy and Terence said keep in mind those positive comments people tell you.

Taelor and Pilaf  – (September 9, 2009 at 5:32 PM)  

I know how that is. I don't use a gentle leader, as I haven't had the need yet, but I do get those horrible comments like those of the first person when my pups get a little spazzy. And the "that dog won't ever be a guide" comments are frustrating, to, but it is always heartwarming when you do get good comments. I am sure that tomorrow will be a much better day, ad Cabana wil pick right up and be better. They always do after a particularly bad spell. =]

Just a little heartwarming thought. I was in a local museum once with my first puppy and a lady stopped to talk to me for over 30 minutes about GDB. At the end of our conversation, she hugged me and told me that she wanted her daughter to grow up just like me. It is comments and people like these that help make being a puppy raiser much easer role to play.

Have a great rest of the day!

Becky  – (September 9, 2009 at 7:44 PM)  

Hope you had a quiet afternoon indoors! One of mine is when 'they' say as they are bending down petting and exciting your dog ... I know I shouldn't be petting your dog.

Megan and Fullerton  – (September 9, 2009 at 8:00 PM)  

I am sorry you had to deal with that, I have definitely had my share of those days and they are rotten, but remember why you are raising Cabana and remember how far she has come since she was eight weeks old.

I also agree with Mandy, I can't stand it when people tell me my pups with "never be guide dogs" grrr. . .

This summer a lady told me I must be really cold-hearted to do this and give up the dogs like I do. Ummm. . . wow, that one kinda hurt.

I hope you are feeling better. :D You rock and Cabana is AWESOME!! :D

Poppy The Puppy  – (September 9, 2009 at 9:27 PM)  

Ugh! I'm sure we have all had days like this! Maybe that will be our next check in topic! Kenz has a story that beats it all!

I agree with Natalie - I'm an Ipod fanatic when I am out walking with my dog (and just about any other time...) I can choose to interact with people or not. Ipod and dark sunglasses! A great combo!

I frequently have to remind myself that people are really trying to be helpful in their own way. It may not be their place, but they are making their attempt at being helpful. Sometimes it comes off poorly and sometimes our own frustrations cause it to come off poorly.

I also have to remind myself that when I allow the comments to get to me, I tense up and that tension travels right down my leash to my dog. Though I have some idea that the dog *should* figure out that I am irritated and shape up their behavior, that never seems to happen. They feel my tension and start acting out more, which makes me more frustrated and grip that leash just a bit tighter, which feeds down the leash again.

Go do something fun with her - tug with your right arm! ;) Run around the yard like a nut. Get her super tired so she wants nothing more to snuggle in for a cuddle. Enjoy that time with her and renew yourself for tomorrow. Tomorrow will be a better day!

Natalie  – (September 10, 2009 at 9:42 AM)  

Ugh, some days those incidents just pile up and ruins everything. Just keep in mind that YOU know what you are doing and nobody else knows what you and Cabana are like or have been through and should keep their mouths shut. But ranting definitely helps :) Hope you are having a better day now! Big hugs :)

Lauren and Nuri  – (September 10, 2009 at 12:14 PM)  

I know how you feel! I've been yelled at for using the Gentle Leader, people believe that it's cruel. Just hang in there. Remember that you are doing such a great thing and take each criticism in stride (which you seem to be doing so well!). Puppy Raising is such a rewarding thing and keep up the good work!

OSU 98  – (September 10, 2009 at 1:47 PM)  

Your day today just confirms what all of us already know...people open their mouth and stupid stuff comes out.

For some entertainment, read the link below to my friend Natalie's blog..she did not quite have the same restraint and patience you did in this situation. :) I hope it make you laugh...it made me laugh because when I read this, the only thing I think is "Oh, this is so Natalie!"


Emily  – (September 10, 2009 at 2:23 PM)  

I totally understand where you're coming from. Just 2 weeks before Hart left, he was having a tough time at class. One of the prospective raisers was there for the very first time, never having raised a puppy. "When does Hart go back?" I told him two weeks. His response "Oh dear. I don't think he'll do well." I wanted to be say, "Yeah, buddy you're so cool for telling me, a 14 year-old that this dog who I've worked so hard with, won't succeed." Well, now it feels really good to tell him that Hart's doing well in formal training :) He and I no longer have problems, since now he puppy sits, and gets a taste of the real deal! Cabana's so pretty, I'll have to remember to wish her a happy birthday, Hart was born on 10/5/07 :) Exactly 1 year apart!

Penelope  – (September 10, 2009 at 4:04 PM)  

Oh I hate those days! We haven't had too many with Brianna yet (though I'm just waiting...:\ but we had plenty with Penelope! And the Dog Whisperer makes everything so much harder now, with people who think they know what they're doing but really don't have a clue! I'd never thought of the Ipod idea though! That's great! =D hahaha Hope you and Cabana have good days for a while now! =)

mariahleadme  – (September 10, 2009 at 10:48 PM)  

Hey---no biggie-----my wifes current Guide still has her "Gentle Leader" days....and shes 5 years old.
Her first Guide never had to use one.
The pup we are raising hasnt had one yet, and looks like he wont need one....but he is only 5 months old.
Those who have had only pet dogs and never had a working service dog will not know or understand all the aspects of what it takes to be a confident and capable service dog handler. All they know is what they see on popular TV shows and what their friend "the dog trainer" has told them. They have no real-world service dog experience to draw from, so we have found it is best for us, to quote the Penguins from the movie "Madagascar"......."Just smile and wave, boys. Smile and wave."

Dakota's Puppy Raiser  – (September 12, 2009 at 1:24 PM)  

Wow, that obviously hit a nerve with all of us puppy raisers! Yes, I too had people tell me my first puppy would "never make it" (he's an awesome guide now!); yet it was perhaps even worse when I had a lady follow me around LAUGHING OUT LOUD and pointing at my (admittedly odd looking) labradoodle! Keep smiling...you're doing an awesome job!

Scout 'n Freyja  – (September 14, 2009 at 8:19 AM)  

Your post today is interesting. In my neck of the woods puppy raisers are respected members of our community. We don't pet unless we ask and we respect the dog wearing the backpack.

When those folks say things to you instead of getting upset how about taking the time to educate them and to make it a teaching experience for them. That way they won't go home and tell all of their friends that assistance dogs are abused as puppys by those who train them.

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