Last week, Isaac and I were shopping at Kroger. Not the little Kroger in the little town where we live, but a larger Kroger in a larger nearby town. I was searching for chia seeds, among other things, which the little Kroger near me does not carry.
I had just selected a nice bone for Isaac in the pet supply aisle and we were heading up the aisle when we saw someone with a service dog walking past the end of our aisle.
Isaac immediately froze. His body got stiff and his neck was sticking out, like he was trying to get as good a look as possible at the other dog.
Living in a rural area, Isaac and I do not come across other service dog teams very often. In fact, it's only happened twice in the year and a half since I got Isaac.
The first time was at the library. We got to the top of the stairs and were both surprised to see another dog there. Isaac immediately began to bark, in a fierce "I'm going to eat you up" way. I was startled and embarrassed by his response. The other dog just looked at him like, "What is wrong with you, you fool?" I immediately turned and took Isaac back downstairs and out of the library. I was really upset, embarrassed and felt like a service dog owner failure.
The second time was at the thrift store. We rounded a rack of clothes and found ourselves face to face with another service dog team. Isaac let out a single, loud, surprised bark. I immediately turned in the opposite direction and we went directly to the front of the store, paid for our stuff and left. The single bark was much, much better than the display of ferociousness at the library, but it still wasn't good.
That was probably a full year ago. Maybe longer.
When we spotted the other service dog team in the grocery store last week, I quickly responded by turning back down the pet aisle, walking away from where we'd seen the other dog heading. I quickly grabbed a small package of bacon-flavored dog treats because I didn't have any treats in my pocket at the time and I thought I'd need some to reward Isaac for ignoring the other dog and paying attention to me.
Isaac was still very interested in the other dog and practically walked backward down the aisle with me, trying to look behind him at the spot where he'd last seen the dog. When he realized I was opening a package of treats and putting some in my pocket, he gave me some of his attention but needed a fair amount of redirection. He does love treats, but he really wanted to know where that other dog was and what she was doing.
I tried to make sure we didn't get too close to the other service dog team and I succeeded in that regard. We did see them one more time as we were heading down the health food aisle. They appeared to be heading toward the front of the store, where the registers are. Again, Isaac was very interested in them but he didn't bark or even whine. He did get a lot of treats.
I was really, really happy he handled it OK.
When we were paying for our stuff, the cashier commented that we were the second service dog team to go through her line that day. She told me the other service dog handler has been shopping there with his dog for about seven years. She told me he gets mad if people pet his dog and she didn't seem to know why, so I explained why you aren't supposed to pet service dogs. Then I gave her permission to say hello to Isaac, which both she and Isaac enjoyed.