I've been in Michigan for a few days, a bit north of Detroit. This is the third time I've visited my friend Traci in this area and each time, I've been struck by something.
Strangers do not bother my dog here.
No one pets without asking. Yesterday while having breakfast at a diner, our server, upon noticing as we were getting up to leave that there was actually a dog under our table, bent down and said hello to Isaac. But most people don't even do that. I've had a couple people ask me if they could pet him, but most don't even ask. And they don't baby talk to him, or make kissy noises, or bark at him.
Sometimes I get asked if I am training him and once someone asked me if I was blind. Another time I was asked what was wrong with me.
But they don't bother the service dog.
Traci says it's because there is a program that trains guide dogs in the area and they train them all over around here and people are all used to them and know you aren't supposed to bother them. I guess that's as good an explanation as any, but surely there are service dog programs in other areas, right?
But the difference is very noticeable. I stopped in a McDonald's near Toledo on my way here to get a drink and use the bathroom, and both the manager of the restaurant and another customer were petting Isaac without asking. Then I hit Detroit, and no one bothers him. I stopped at a very busy sub place for lunch and a couple customers smiled at Isaac but no one stared, no one pointed, no one tried to pet him, no one made silly noises at him, no one even asked me intrusive questions.