When I had lunch at an Indian restaurant the other day, the restaurant had a buffet. I generally avoid buffets with Isaac. At least, I have until this point. On a couple occasions I've had lunch at Pizza Hut with a friend and they have a lunch buffet there, but I've let my friend get his food first, then asked him to hold Isaac's leash at the table while I went up to get my food.
Buffets are a challenge with a service dog, at
least for me. There is a lot of food really close to the dog, which he
has to ignore. Sometimes there are other people at the buffet, and it
can be crowded there, and the dog has to resist the urge to sniff their
butts, and he has to stay really close to his handler so he doesn't get
in anyone's way.
It's also important that the dog doesn't make any sudden moves, jerking his leash, because that would jerk my arm. When I'm getting food at a buffet, I have a plate in one hand and am using the other hand to put food on the plate.
When I first got Isaac, I had a hard time at restaurants where you have to get your own drink. In fact, the very first time I had to get my own drink with Isaac, I had my left wrist through the loop at the end of his leash and was holding the cup in my left hand. I was using my right hand to push the button that dispenses the drink. Isaac moved suddenly and my cup full of ice (luckily I hadn't filled it with tea yet) went flying.
For quite a while after that, I managed to fill my drink one-handed. I carried the cup in my right hand and held the leash in my left. I set the cup under the drink dispenser, then let go of the cup and used my right hand to push the button to dispense the drink.
While it's gotten easier to get drinks over time, I've been nervous of trying a salad bar or buffet. Typically at a buffet, I hold the plate in my left hand and use my right hand to put food on my plate. I kept picturing Isaac making a sudden move and my plate flying through the air like a frisbee. Or the plate just tipping sideways, dumping all the food on it onto the floor, or even worse, onto the buffet itself. What a mess.
But the other day, at the Indian restaurant, I decided to try it. And it was fine. I had Isaac sit while I was filling my plate. I figured he'd be less likely to make any sudden moves that way. But I managed to fill my plate without spilling anything. There weren't even any close calls.