With utmost respect and patience, she interacts with the service dog from afar and explains to her daughter that they should not be distracted.
Service dogs play a vital role in the lives of many people with disabilities, providing greater independence and helping them to lead more fulfilling lives. They are highly valued companions and partners to their handlers, and their impact on their handlers' lives is immeasurable.
They are typically allowed to accompany their handlers in public places and on public transportation, even where other pets are not allowed. We often come across these dogs and tend to want to pet them or say hello. However, a mother patiently explained to her young daughter why nobody—including her child—should pet a service dog.
A recent TikTok video, posted by the account for Jake (@jakethes.d), a lovable yellow Lab who serves as a medical and cardiac service dog, captured the teachable moment. According to the video, Jake's owner was at a store when the incident occurred and decided to record a snippet of the conversation without revealing any faces.
A mother can be heard saying, "It says, 'Service dog, do not pet,'" after presumably seeing a tag on the dog's collar. Her child asks, "Awww, what does the dog do?" to which the mother replies, "I don't know what the dog does."
Jake's owner answered the child's question and said, "He's a medical and cardiac arrest service dog." Rather than simply acknowledging the comment and moving on, the mother redirects her attention to her child and proceeds to clarify the meaning behind the statement. She says, "So he can sense when someone is having trouble with their heart. Like nudge them and let them know they need to get to a safe spot." She adds, "Yeah, dogs are great, aren’t they? When he's on duty, we can't distract him."
Jake's owner wrote in the caption, "Another amazing mother and amazing moment caught in the pet store today when a mother brought her daughter up to us to teach her about service dogs with jobs!"
TikTok user @pisces3590 commented, "When my daughter sees a dog [and] I noticed it's a service dog I tell her don't distract it, just admire from afar cause it's working." Another person @sammelisabth7 said, "This mom is who [we] should all strive to be."
Kaitlyn Sacco, a trainer with Paws for Purple Hearts, told The San Diego Union-Tribune, "A lot of times, having a service dog kind of puts a spotlight on you when you're out in public, and not everyone loves that." Service dogs are taught to remain aware of their handler's requirements, therefore, interacting with them by petting or playing may divert their attention from their designated duties and can prove to be life-threatening in the most extreme of situations.
TikTok user @Olivia_Maree commented on the video, "As a former service dog trainer, I LOVE THIS SO MUCH. 50% of my public training time was spent educating people. Most people were very interested." Another user @graveyard.heart said, "That was a good mom, she handled that with respect for everyone, dog and kid included." So, the next time you see a service dog, don't forget to restrain yourself from distracting them and encourage others to do the same.