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: www.leaderdog.org 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...
1. CAN I PET YOUR DOG?
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?