The Dog in the Grocery Store

My mother, who once upon a time was a nurse, always emphasized “wash your hands.” Like much of Mom’s advice over the years, it turned out to be right, as it’s now proven that washing your hands regularly can prevent transmission of lots of nasty viruses. I’m glad to see the prevalence of  hand wipe dispensers at grocery store entrances, and although I try to bring my own shopping basket (a nifty collapsible basket I got at, I seldom pass up the hand wipe dispenser. Yesterday, I saw something that made me think twice about what may be on grocery store shopping carts.In the checkout line ahead of me, an adorable Papillon was perched in the customer’s shopping cart, its little butt resting on the shelf for small items. I recognized the customer as a former volunteer with our local pet therapy organization. I say “former” because this volunteer was asked to leave the organization, after several instances of inappropriate behavior. As I joined the organization around the time that this volunteer left, we had never actually met, and she did not recognize me. As she unloaded her groceries onto the checkout counter, the dog became restless and looked as if it might jump out of the cart. I stepped forward and commented “what a cute dog!” to get the owner’s attention. Her reply was, “She’s a therapy dog and a service dog!” and she went on to boast to the rest of the checkout line the dog’s accomplishments as a therapy dog in the community. I didn’t say anything, but privately I wanted to point out that no, she is no longer a therapy dog, and I rather doubt she is a service dog either. The therapy dogs are required to be clean and well-groomed (this dog wasn’t) and wear an ID badge. Unlike service dogs, they are not allowed in public buildings without permission. Therapy dogs also have to be leashed, and the handler must be holding the leash. Service dogs also usually display some sort of identification (although, I understand that such badges are easily faked). This woman was probably the type that if challenged about the dog being a “service dog,” she would make a scene and possibly try to sue the grocery store. In any case, she was not a good ambassador for either therapy dogs or service dogs, with the dog’s paws and butt all over the grocery cart. What do you think?

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