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Wednesday, November 10, 2010


When I'm out and about with my Future Leader Dog puppy Gus, strangers ask me questions.  Here are the top ten.

10.  Doesn't he ever just get to be a dog?

WHAT I SAY:  Of course.  When his bandana (or jacket) is off, he isn't working and he can play.  He can play with other dogs and we play with him at home.  There are some games, though, that we don't play with him, like tug-o-war, wrestling, or fetch.  We don't want him to become obsessed with chasing things.

9.  How long do you have him?

WHAT I SAY:  Until he is a year old.

8.  How do I get one?

WHAT I SAY:  You can volunteer to raise a puppy for Leader Dogs; they are in desperate need of puppy-raisers.  Just go on their website: and fill out an application!  (In an aside I add:  If your puppy gets "career-changed" you get to keep him!)

7.  Can you come over and train my dog?

WHAT I SAY:  Sure.  But I won't be a volunteer--you'll have to pay me.

6.  How do you get him to stay so calm?

WHAT I SAY:  Well, there are lots of exercises we do to help our puppy "settle" and learn to be calm.  OR:  Well, a tired puppy is a good puppy!

5.  How old is it?

WHAT I SAY:  HE is just over (______) months.

4.  What's its name?

WHAT I SAY:  HIS name is Gus. 

3.  Is it a lab?

WHAT I SAY:  Yes, HE is a black lab.

2.  How can you give him up?

WHAT I SAY:  It IS hard to give them up, but I can.  I keep that thought in the back of my mind all year and appreciate every day I have with him.  Anyway, raising a puppy for Leader Dogs for the Blind is more about "giving," and someday, hopefully, he will make a big difference in someone else's life.

...and the number one question I get asked when I'm out and about with my Future Leader Dog puppy Gus is...


WHAT I SAY:  Thank you for asking!  If he stays sitting and calm, sure.

When the "dive-bombers" don't even ask and go right for my puppy:

WHAT I SAY:  Please don't pet my puppy, he's working.

When I say OK, but ask them to help me train my puppy with a proper MEET & GREET and after telling them what to do, they don't do it and instead point and wave their finger at my puppy's open mouth and keep telling him to "sit, sit, no, sit!"

WHAT I SAY:  Well, maybe now is not a good time to pet him.

When they say, with their hand completely in my puppy's mouth, "No, that's ok, I don't mind (if he bites me)."

WHAT I SAY:  No, it is NOT ok.  He needs to learn he cannot do that.  Thank you for asking, but I don't think you should pet my puppy right now...can you see how excited he is getting? 

What are some of the questions you get asked when you are in public with your Future Leader Dog puppy?  Or Leader Dog?


  1. great idea for a post.
    I react the same as you when people ask if they can pet O.J. I sometimes allow pets while he's in harness if we're waiting for something or we are somewhere where he's not going to still be distracted when we continue walking after he has been petted.
    When I do school talks I always stress to children how important it is to not pet while he's working. Suppose I'm contradicting myself really, but it is easier for them to understand the difference.

    I always get asked:
    How does he know where he's going?
    How does he know when to cross the road?
    What's his name? Then when I tell them I get asked, was he named after OJ Simpson?
    (then they usually laugh hysterically) and if I had a penny every time I heard that I'd be very rich!

  2. Jen, love your comment, thanks!

    As for kids, sometimes I think they "get it" better than some adults do!

    I've taken FLD Gus, and my last puppy, FLD Mike to schools, too, to talk to kids. It's always great fun and they have the best questions. I try to explain how a guide dog "works" so I don't always get the same questions that you do.

    Funny about the responses to OJ's name! I bet you WOULD be rich!