I was recently at a conference and there was an individual that interrupted my friend and I and started quizzing me on what service this dog was for, reached out and started petting Cricket, grabbed my books, etc ... Anyway, my friend was appalled at the multiple boundaries he had crossed in our short interaction. True, indeed. As we talked about it over lunch, I told her that every once in a while we do encounter someone like this, but they are the exception and most likely cross boundaries in their interactions with people with or without a dog.
I believe most of the time, it is someone genuinely with questions about how a dog can perform such an incredible work. I am happy to answer questions about my guide dog - how she works and is able to help me be safe - it is pretty amazing. I also enjoy educating and helping people understand the importance of respecting the guide when they are working, talking to the handler and not the dog, and realize this is an ongoing process. Although I work with a guide daily, for many people meeting us is their first interaction with a guide dog. And yes, that does not give them the right to invade our space ... but does lend to my trying to be patient and kind.
I also began to share with my friend many examples of the kindness of people in their interactions with me as a guide dog handler. How often I hear - that is a beautiful dog, but I know she will work best if I don't pet her (thank you!). My yoga studio is moving this Saturday and I was so touched by the owner/instructor who came up to me and asked when she could give me and Cricket a tour of the new studio so that when we came on the first lesson there we would feel comfortable. I was so touched that in the busyness of their moving and getting settled in their new studio she would think to offer that invite to me. Or, the classmate at yoga (don't know who it was) came up to me and offered to help me get my belongings amongst the crowd of people. It is a gift to see the kindness of others ... those little acts of kindness mean so much.
I laughed my friend then leaned over and said you have something on your shirt -- would you like to know that? YES! I appreciate the kindness of those who tell me if there is something I am not aware of ... What act of kindness have you appreciated today?