As adults we know that we should always teach our children the purpose of service dogs. If your child sees a person out with their service dog it's important to teach the child that the dog is working therefore kids shouldn't approach the dog to pet it or play with it or even interact with it. In fact one mom recently went viral with a post she had written about why it's so important for children to be taught not to pet service dogs.
There is a time when you should respond to a service dog however and that is when you are approached by one who doesn't have an owner or master nearby. Tessa Connaughton, a 20-year-old from California, recently wrote a post on Tumblr that also went viral when she wrote about what to do if a service dog without an owner approaches you.
Connaughton is autistic and just over two years ago she got an mastiff named Raider who she trained, with the help of a local dog training company, to help her ease her anxiety.
“Layman’s terms: He lays on me if I get antsy,” Connaughton told HuffPost. Just a few months ago Connaughton was diagnosed with epilepsy so she has also been training Raider to help her in the event she suffers a seizure. Currently Raider has been trained to leave Connaughton to find another adult should she have a seizure.
A few weeks ago while out running errands, Connaughton had tripped and fell. Raider thought she was having a seizure and immediately went to get help, but was met with resistance and annoyance.
Do you know what to do if a service dog approaches you without a person?— TODAY (@TODAYshow) June 19, 2018
A PSA for service dogs is going viral after a story was posted on Twitter. @TODAYPuppy’s trainer, Olivia, answers common questions. #OrangeRoom pic.twitter.com/lGQg8162f2
Connaughton wrote about the incident in her post, explaining that if a service dog approaches you there's definitely a reason for it. After Connaughton was able to gather herself after her fall, she immediately went after Raider.
"I went after him after I had dusten off my jeans and my ego, and I found him trying to get the attention of a very annoyed woman," she wrote. "She was swatting him away and telling him to go away. So I feel like I need to make this heads up. If a service dog without a person approaches you, it means the person is down and in need of help. Don’t get scared, don’t get annoyed, follow the dog!"
While Connaughton's post has received mostly positive reviews, some have been critical of her training method and choice of service dog. Still, many were happy to learn that when you see a dog without an owner there may be a reason for it so don't be so quick to dismiss it.
“There’s a thousand ways to train a service dog,” Connaughton said. “I live in a small town with a lot of people, so my method works for me.”
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