The other day, I met a friend for a late lunch at an Indian restaurant. I love Indian food but hardly ever get to enjoy any because I live in the middle of farmland and we don't have an Indian restaurant anywhere around here. We have a Chinese restaurant, a diner-type place that sells down-home cooking, a McDonald's, a Pizza Hut and a Subway. And a dairy whip place that's open in the summer. Which is why I don't eat out often.
But this place, about an hour's drive, was fantastic. All vegetarian and delicious.
This was only the second time I've taken Isaac to an Indian restaurant and both times, I've worried a little about whether or not I'd have an access issue. I've been told by other service dog handlers that they have access disputes more often at Asian restaurants than at any other type of eating establishment. That's probably due to cultural differences and due to foreign-born business owners and employees not being real familiar with American laws about service dogs. I try not to stereotype people so I don't want to assume I'll have problems at certain types of businesses, nor do I want to assume that people from certain parts of the world are going to be ignorant of the law. But it was in the back of my mind.
Well, I had absolutely no problem at either of the Indian places I've taken Isaac to. So I'm going to stop worrying about that from now on.
Isaac did great. I arrived early and took him for a walk before we went in to eat, so he was ready to rest. He went right under the table and lay down.
The employee that seated us was kind of keeping his distance from Isaac and he explained to me that he was afraid of dogs. He didn't say it in a way that implied he didn't think I should have my service dog in the restaurant, it was more like he just wanted to explain why he wasn't getting real close to me. I assured him that Isaac was very friendly but he did not seem convinced. Which is OK. I know some people are afraid of dogs and I respect that. He said, "When a big dog like that looks at me, I think he is thinking I would make a good meal." I promised him Isaac would not bite, that he does not eat people, but he still seemed a big wary. Which, like I said, is OK. He did not in any way suggest his fear of dogs meant I should not have my service dog there.
There was a couple with a small child, maybe a year old or just a little older, sitting nearby. Otherwise, the restaurant was pretty empty. Because it was not busy and there we were at an out-of-the-way table, I let Isaac stick his front paws out from under the table a little and lay his head on his paws. He really, really prefers to do that in restaurants. He will go all the way under the table if I tell him to, but he really likes to be able to see what's going on.
Well, that little girl loved watching Isaac. She barely took her eyes off him. He wasn't doing anything, he was snoozing away, and I don't think he even noticed her. But she watched him closely and occasionally pointed or giggled a little at him.
Her mom wasn't able to see Isaac from where she was sitting and she kept looking over in our direction trying to figure out what had her daughter so captivated. I told her, "She's looking at my service dog." Mom leaned over so she could see Isaac, then smiled and said, "She loves dogs. We have two at home. Your dog is being really good. Mine would be all over the place. And maybe going to the bathroom on the floor."
Later, another employee, or maybe the manager or owner, he was the only one in a suit, was walking past our table and he kind of bumped into Isaac's feet that were sticking out. He didn't step on Isaac's feet, and he didn't exactly trip, and Isaac and the man were both fine. Isaac lifted his head up but didn't even sit up, so obviously it didn't bother him at all. The man looked very concerned, though, and apologized to me about a million times. I apologized to him, told him please not to worry about it, it was all my fault, I shouldn't have let Isaac's feet stick out like that, and Isaac was perfectly fine. He just kept apologizing, though.
Then he put his hands together, like in a prayer position, bowed down to Isaac and apologized to him. Which was nice but I was really feeling remorseful at that point because it really truly was my fault and he didn't hurt Isaac at all or even disturb him.