One of my friends had a “service” dog he outfitted with a “Working Dog” vest. He took her places that most dogs usually don’t get to go.
She was a great dog, a friendly Lab-pittie mix that loved balls and people and exhibited good manners. But she was also young and exuberant, and so inevitably would bark or jump or do something a true working dog would never do—which, of course, would blow her cover. Once, she wore the vest to an outdoor music festival, and my friend was questioned seemingly umpteen times about his “disability” and the “service” she provided. He responded vaguely about an unspecified condition and grew uncomfortable repeating it all day. By the afternoon, the dog was sprawled as his feet, and the vest was gone, used for the last time. And I like to think my friend learned a lesson.
D. Glenn Martyn of Martyn Canine Behavior takes up this topic in this month’s coverage of working dogs. Turns out he gets calls frequently from people like my friend who want a “fake” service dog—a pet that can go anywhere. He sets them straight, though. Martyn also has folks calling him who genuinely need a service dog, and he knows all about that, too.