The story of a boy living with Type 1 and his family's journey to raise and train a diabetic alert dog.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Incognito in Public

Bo incognito in public.
Last Saturday I forgot Bo's service vest when I took him to Austin's football game. Instead of going home to get it, I worked him incognito. Strangers didn't give him a second glance while we were walking to the stadium. There was no staring, pointing or whispering when we made our way to the bleachers. I took a seat among the fans from the opposing team to maintain our anonymity. A woman sitting next to me turned to me with a smile and said, "He is so well-behaved." I smiled and thanked her. When the crowd burst into cheers, the same woman turned to me and said, "He's so calm."

When I eventually joined my friends they observed Bo wasn't wearing his service vest and asked if they could say hello. I gave them the go ahead and Bo the okay to say hello. They indulged him with rubs and praise. In return he gave kisses, sniffs and tail wags.

A woman I didn't know was sitting on the bleacher below me. Unbeknownst to her, Bo was sniffing her jacket. I stopped him and apologized to her for his nosiness. She replied, "He is probably smelling my dog. May I pet him?" I told her yes. She complimented him on his good behavior and pet him as she talked to him. Her husband who had been sitting to the left of me and behind her didn't speak until he was leaving. He stopped in front of Bo, looked at him and said, "You are the most well-behaved dog I've seen." Bo looked at the man as if he knew what he was saying. I smiled and thanked him.

This outing made me realize the pressure I put on myself with regards to ensuring Bo exemplifies all service dog qualities in public. It was a unique experience for me to see Bo through the eyes of strangers without the expectations associated with being identified as a trained service dog.

I observed Bo air scenting with each passing breeze but he never alerted. When Austin got off the field, he came to ask me for money to buy food. He had just checked his blood sugar and was 103.

At my feet on the bleachers.

Watching football.

Bo settled at my feet on the bleachers.

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