Isaac and I spent a rather long and unpleasant hour at the Medicaid office today, getting a gas voucher. In my county, they give gas vouchers to Medicaid patients for travel to medical appointments that are reimbursed by Medicaid. There is a long list of rules and a bunch of hoops to jump through (like with most benefits for low income and disabled people) but the amount they give for gas vouchers is actually pretty good and helpful. So I do it.
Today there was a long line and it was moving slow. You don't actually have to stand in line, you take a number and then wait for your number to be called. There are chairs, although there are often not enough chairs and people have to stand and wait. There were several mothers there with very small children and it occurred to me how well-behaved the children often are that I see in places like this. It is a very long wait and they are bored, as am I. There are no books or toys in the welfare office waiting room for kids. I think they are used to waiting for long periods of time in places like this - at the welfare office, at the food pantry, at the free clinic. Sometimes I try to imagine a childhood like that and I can't.
Anyway, Isaac and I had been at a park earlier and he ran around a whole lot and he was content to lie down by my feet and go to sleep.
A little girl about two came up and started to pet him, so I bent down and gave her my little speech about "It's not OK to touch a doggie you don't know without asking. You always need to ask first." I don't think she really understood me.
Her mom came over then and led her away, chastising her. I spoke to the mom and tried to explain that I was not upset with the child, but that I always want to explain to kids that they need to ask before petting a strange dog. I don't think mom got it, either.
Another little boy was asking his mom if he could pet the dog and she told him he had to ask me. So he asked and I said yes and thanked him for asking. Then two other little boys came over and asked if they could pet him, too, and I said yes and thanked them for asking.
Later, the little girl came back and I asked her if she wanted to pet the doggie and of course I could tell that she did. I asked her if she could ask me to pet him and then I realized her verbal language skills didn't seem to be too good. She ended up just pointing at Isaac and looking at me. I understand she was asking permission to pet him, so I said she could and thanked her for asking.
She didn't know how to pet a dog nicely, though. I had to keep reminding her to be gentle. Poor Isaac, he was very patient with her, but she kept wanting to touch his toes, which he does not like, or to poke her fingers up his nose, which he also does not like, or to unzip the pocket on his vest, which I did not like.
I was getting really annoyed with her mother, who was not providing adequate supervision. Mom should have been right there with her, helping her to pet the doggie gently and teaching her how to interact with a dog.
On a brighter note, another mom asked me about how to get a service dog. Her little girl is blind and mom said she doesn't need one now, she's too young, but she was wondering how you get a guide dog. She wanted to know for when her daughter gets older. She was under the impression it would be very expensive and I said oh no, not with guide dogs. The main guide dog programs place dogs free of charge and even cover your travel expenses to go get your dog and be trained to use a guide dog. I was glad to be able to let her know that and also glad she wasn't trying to get a service dog for her toddler but planning for the future.