When weather allows, I often take a dog with me when I’m running errands and they have a special day out. We visit farm stores, pet stores, drive-thrus, and they nap while I visit stores they aren’t welcome at. Last Saturday was Rose’s special day out. She went to work with me at the vet clinic and then went to run errands.
Our second stop of the afternoon was Iowa Pet Foods and Seascapes in Des Moines. It’s a locally owned pet specialty store. We hadn’t been by in about 6 months so I was suprised to see that the prices had increased dramatically and the inventory had become more selective. Rose led herself through the store with her nose in the air sniffing madly. As she sniffed she’d discover where the shelving units were and would sniff her way down the treat aisle. Of course, a price scanner must be attached to her nostrils as she showed the most interest in the more expensive packaged treats (not a chance girlie). I looked up from my browsing to find that we were being watched intently by sales personnel who appeared to be concerned by Rose’s nosey approach to her merchandise. I explained that she didn’t see well and used her nose to navigate which seemed to reassure the gal that she wouldn’t start snarfing everything in sight. I asked where they had the Proplan training treats and the sales girl went to ask her manager. The manager was perhaps the rudest person I’d met that day and was quite horrified that I’d think she’d carry the dreaded Proplan. Well, ok then. . We bought a couple of clearance toys for Christmas stockings, decided to permanently remove Iowa Pet Foods from my “stores worth visiting list” , and left for Petsmart.
Although Petsmart may be a giant, impersonal store they are at least polite. Rose scored her usual treats at the check out counter, sniffed her way down the aisles, and found our Proplan treats. Unfortunately we also found a several very rude humans attached to some boisterous dogs. I would step between Rose and the rapidly approaching human/dog team, tell them that Rose doesn’t like other dogs in her face when she’s on leash, and thank them for respecting her space. The human would disregard my polite request and let their dog enthusiastically approach Rose. Unfortunately, although Rose loves people and loves dogs she doesn’t see well anymore so she is unaware of the dog’s proximity until said dog gets up close and personal (within a foot of her face). I’m sure you can understand her rapid fire bark and snap response. So, every time we saw another thoughtless human being towed by their exuberant canine we’d do a U-turn and retreat down the aisle. A couple intrepid humans decided that their dog had to meet Rose even if they had to follow us around the entire store. My increasingly loud and abrupt requests to respect my dog’s space were ignored. Apparently stupidity (or rudeness?) knows no bounds?
Luckily we did find a lot of nice people and sales girls at Petsmart. Rose loaded up on petting, treats, aisle sniffing, and worshipped several children (her favorite). Later, some well-meaning friends on chat groups recommended that perhaps I keep Rose at home to prevent future run-in’s with thoughtless human/dog teams. But why should Rose have to stay home? If I keep Rose “safe” at home and keep her away from the world she loves then I am punishing Rose for her impaired vision and for someone else’s poor behavior. Others have recommended that I put Rose in the “Yellow Dog Project” where reactive/space-sensitive dogs wear yellow vests to alert people to their issues. But, I would have to argue that since people cannot understand and respect a simple request they would certainly not be able to understand/respect a colored vest. Also, it’d be like putting a Scarlet letter on my dog announcing that she’s different. Rose isn’t different. She’s actually extremely normal in expecting others to respect her space.