Next time this happens, I think I'm just going to ask: Are you talking to me? Or are you talking to my dog?
It's happened a few times. The first time went something like this.
Isaac and I were walking through Kroger. I saw an employee heading in our direction. She nodded at other customers in greeting as she passed them.
As she approached me and my service dog, though, she broke into a huge smile and said, in a loud, high-pitched voice, "Hello! And how are you today?"
I wasn't sure if she was talking to me or to Isaac. She seemed to be looking at us both. It's not uncommon for people to greet Isaac and not me or to otherwise speak to him and not me. I don't mind that, usually. Sometimes I just ignore them, other times I answer for Isaac. If they say, "How are you today?" to Isaac, I might say, "He's fine" or "He says he's great." It just depends on my mood, I guess, and what I'm doing at the time.
But this time I couldn't tell. She was using the tone of voice people often use when talking to dogs. If she was talking to me that way, it must be because she thought I was intellectually disabled since I had a service dog.
I was not prepared for this situation. I wasn't sure what to do.
I ended up responding, just as loud, in the same tone of voice, "I'm fine, how are you?"
Which I think was a perfectly suitable response.
But I really am curious about whether she was actually talking to me or to my dog. So next time, I think I'm just gonna ask.