Whenever you see a dog in public, there’s an urge to pat its head and pet it. Dogs certainly have a charm that can attract a person, even when it’s a stranger’s dog. However, dogs must always be cautiously approached; otherwise, they might get defensive or, in the case of a service dog, distracted. Talk to the owner first and ask for permission. If they explained why petting their dog isn’t allowed, you must accept that with respect. Consent is important, especially from a stranger.
Parents should also teach this to their kids, especially when they are fond of dogs. It will prevent their kids from getting into trouble or being injured. Also, children will better understand consent and how not all dogs are alright with sudden physical contact. Another important reminder to note is that dogs shouldn’t be bothered amidst their work. A Reddit user has opened up about this issue involving a service dog. OP had an encounter with some kids and their mother — who all misunderstood her intention.
Apparently, the Reddit user has PTSD, and Atom, the service dog, has always been a needed companion, especially outdoors. OP had no problems before because people usually listen and understand the situation. However, during their bookshop trip, the kids pointed at Atom and asked their mother if they could pat her. OP hoped the mother would say no, but she joined the kids, approached them, and started patting Atom.
“I tried to explain to the kids nicely that she was working and that you can’t pat a working dog and to please leave us alone, but the mum replied back that they just want to pat her because they aren’t allowed a dog where they live because the landlord won’t allow it,” the Reddit user wrote. “I tried to explain that wasn’t my problem and that Atom is working, and Atom could feel me getting extremely anxious, and they wouldn’t leave. So I left the book I was looking at and went to the next aisle, but the kids followed and kept trying to pat her.”
OP had a hard time, and the anxiety started to build up. When the kids didn’t stop following her, she couldn’t help but yell at them. The mother was nearby and yelled at her for yelling at her kids. She even called OP rude and rolled her eyes when OP explained why a service dog must not be bothered while working. The staff noticed that OP was having a panic attack, so they had to intervene — asking the mother to leave OP alone.
“But as she was leaving she made comments about [how] I don’t look disabled and don’t need a dog, and I was being rude, and a couple of other customers told me I should have just let the kids pat the dog and my panic attack wouldn’t have happened,” OP shared. Clearly, the mother was the problematic one in this case. She even witnessed OP’s panic attack, yet she chose to overlook that to win her case. Reddit users couldn’t stop calling out the mother and her kids.
“NTA. Even if it wasn’t a service dog, you said not to touch it. Kids absolutely have to learn not to touch a dog if the owner says no. This time it was a friendly, trained service dog. Next time, the dog may be untrained and aggressive and remove a few of their fingers,” Mundane-Solution5657 commented. Kids should be taught that not all dogs have the same personality.
“NTA NTA NTA and anyone who says differently is 100% wrong. That mother needs to teach her children to respect boundaries. Even if the dog isn’t a service animal, if the owner says, ‘no you cannot pet my dog,” it is not okay to pet the dog. And for service animals, those boundaries are even more important,” FemmeFataleFire said.
Atom was even wearing her vest, indicating she was a service dog. Even without explanation, they should’ve had the idea that the dog is not for petting. The mother should realize that they were evidently wrong and that what they did was horrible since it triggered someone else’s panic attack.
It is inappropriate to invade someone’s personal space, even outdoors. Thankfully, Reddit users have supported OP and assured her that she has the right to say no. Lengthy comments were posted,, and you can join the discussion if you had the same problem as well.