Dog’s are often referred to as “man’s best friend” for a multitude of reasons.
Many even consider dogs as full fledged members of the family, owing to the love and comfort they provide.
But dogs play an even more important role in the lives of those living with disabilities, as they help them get through various day to day activities which many others would take for granted.
Legally blind Redditor yzumakidanton recently acquired a service dog to help him function when he leaves his home.
Concerned he may have overreacted to an incident with his dog, the original poster (OP), took to the subReddit “Am I The A**Hole” (AITA), asking fellow Redditors:
“AITA for getting mad at people stroking my guide dog?”.
The OP first openly discussed how his loss of vision is a relatively recent occurrence, and something which has taken time to adjust to.
“I a 33 (m[ale]) lost my sight almost 6 years ago due to medical negligence, in addition I also have a delicate medical device VPShunt.”
“I live in London and It has taken some time for me to adjust somewhat, and get to the level of independence I am at currently.”
“At first the shock and fear got to me, I couldn’t go outside, I wouldn’t wish that experience on anyone.”
He went on to say that one of the biggest stepping stones to his increasing independence was getting a guide dog.
“The fear and anxiety wouldn’t go away, the cane it not my favorite method of getting around as you physically have to hit obstacles with it to know it there, living in London that’s mostly people.”
“Fortunately I was able to get a guide dog, life improved in so many ways.”
“People were no longer walking into me whilst walking head in their phones, and I was no longer alone.”
“My guide dog is my world because without her I would not have one.”
The OP did disclose, however, having a guide dog still comes with numerous challenges, none more so than those who view guide dogs as pets.
“Now going outside still is not easy for me, try getting over the anxiety of crossing roads, and if you truly believe people are watching out for you that carefully you’re wrong.”
“Anyway… Sadly three days before Christmas a very close friend died, their funeral is this week and with everyone busy I decide to go out on my own, but not on my own, as I’m with my guide dog, to the local shop.”
“I get there and everything starts out OK, I am able to find the till with my guide dog to get assistance.”
“As I am talking to the assistant I get yanked.”
“Through experience I know someone has snuck up behind me to physically stop my dog from doing her job to give her a stroke.”
“Being pulled suddenly by the strength of a dog when blind from behind is NOT easy to deal with.”
“Instantly I’m mad, I know the dogs are so well trained that 99% they only make mistakes because seeing people don’t respect the job they do and don’t realize the potential danger they put us in.”
“I raise my voice and tell whoever the person is to get away, suddenly another man comes out of nowhere:”
“M: Stupid twit.”
“ST: Calm down mate.”
“M: Do not tell me to calm down!”
“ST: I am not sure if she understands.”
“M: Great, then get her away!”
“ST: But she’s disabled.”
“M: I’M DISABLED!!!”
“ST: Well play that card if you want to mate (then stepping off).”
“M: What card! This is my life?”
“People think it’s easy.”
“Truth is guide dogs are just that, guides that are dogs.”
“The training is great but see, they know there are thinks they can’t do when working, but when others come in and stroke her, they are teaching her it’s ok to do things which put my life in danger.”
“She already is starting to walk me into people on the street, if it gets worse she could guide me into a road to get to someone she hopes will stroke her, or she will have to get taken away for retraining, meaning I could lose her (who means more to me than most anyone) for months, whist I am trapped inside my human prison again, not being able to go outside, because people can’t stop themselves from touching a working bloody dog.”
“My suggestion is all those who love to bother working dogs and their owners should try getting their own, or go stroke a police dog.”
Fellow Redditors weighed in on where they believed the OP fell in this particular situation by declaring:
- NTA – Not the A**hole
- YTA – You’re the A**hole
- NAH – No A**holes Here
- ESH – Everybody Sucks Here
Redditors were firmly in agreement the OP was definitely not the a**hole by getting angry after someone tried to pet his dog.
Some pointed out even if the OP’s dog wasn’t a service animal, it would still have been the right thing to ask the owner if it was all right to pet it.
“You always ask the owner if you can pet an animal before you touch it! “
“Service animal or not.”-VoiceofConfusion.
“NTA-You never touch any dog without consent from the owner and never touch a guide dog while they’re working.”-GothPenguin.
While others who also suffer from disabilities agreed sometimes it takes angry reactions for people to realize their difficulties and how even seemingly harmless acts like petting a dog can be rather more serious.
“I am disabled and have mobility issues and people sometimes try to take things from me or ‘help’ me without consulting me and I’ve had to learn how to advocate for myself in those situations that actually are putting me in danger.”
“This is something you’re still navigating how to do but frankly I think your reaction here was justified.”-OpinionLogical2729.
Others agreed the OP had nothing to feel bad about, as the actions of the strangers had the potential to put him in physical danger, which shouldn’t be tolerated.
“Look I know you’re British and probably not confrontational, but it is completely okay to shout at someone ‘Don’t touch my f*cking dog !'”
“It is completely okay for you to do that.”
“It is completely okay for you to do it every time somebody does this to your dog.”
“Eventually you will get the reputation in your local area as ‘that a**hole who shouts every time someone touches his dog’, and people will stop touching your dog.”
“And it’s completely okay for you to have the reputation as that arsehole who shouts every time someone touches his dog.”
“These people aren’t your friends.”
“You owe them nothing.”
“You don’t even owe them common courtesy, because they are putting you in danger because of their selfishness and ignorance.”
“Next time someone touches your dog shout louder.”
“You are completely entitled to do that.”
“And if people don’t like it they should have better manners.”
There are few urges harder to resist than petting an adorable dog.
But it is important to remember service dogs, however adorable, are on the clock and have an important job to do, so their vests which signify they’re service animals should be all one needs to see to fight that all too familiar urge.