When you have a puppy tag along with you to various public places, you get to meet a lot of people that you may otherwise never have. Sometimes they can be rude, like when I walked into an empty sporting complex, past a sign that read, "No Dogs Allowed Except Service Animals." and the man walking in behind me sarcastically asked if I knew how to read.
But more often than not, you get to interact with really sweet people who genuinely want to learn about Dante, and are cheering on his success. When we were out to lunch on Sunday, I had the privilege of meeting two more of these.
Every single table in the main area was full, so they had opened up the private room (that can be reserved) for everyone. There were two rows of table along each wall, with a narrow isle in between. There was only one table left, right in the middle. Because service animals do go pretty much everywhere, they need to be able to scrunch up small and stay out of the way, but the tables were so close that there was literally no where to put Dante where he wouldn't protrude into the isle. A sixty-six pound Retriever does not fit completely under a chair, but in an attempt to get him as out-of-the-way as possible, I commanded Dante to go "under" my chair. He did, but as he scooted around to get more comfortable, he moved the chair too. It was really quite pathetic to watch, and I think everyone who saw him had pity (but trust me - he has those puppy eyes down pat!).
There were two women at the table behind us who saw him and exclaimed, "Aww, poor baby!" I replied that he would be OK because he does need to get used to it. Their table was in the corner, and therefore had some extra space up against the wall. They said, "Let's switch tables. He will have so much more room over here." Before I could protest, they were gathering up their drinks, food and laptops and moving tables. While it is important for Dante to be able to stay small, he does it well when asked to (and it is a pain to worry about someone stepping on him), so I thanked them profusely.
You never really know how people will react to a dog in public. We have had multiple people roll their eyes and act disgusted at a the sight of a dog in the produce isle - and there is that one cashier at Kroger who always screams and refuses to check us out because she is afraid of dogs. It is not every day that someone goes so out of the way to show kindness to a stranger. But I was so appreciative for these sweet ladies.
Usually I say no to petting as Dante is very people-oriented and will seek out attention. But he had been great this day, so as we got up to leave, we said goodbye and one last "thanks" to them, and I asked if they wanted to greet him. They told me that they didn't want to ask, but were so glad I offered. Dante soaked up the attention and we parted our ways with smiles all around.
So, today would you show kindness to a stranger? It is such a blessing and goes farther than you think!