Usually in situations like this, Laura tries to avoid people who might cause a distraction for Polly, but in this case, she was trapped. She had no choice but to pass the children.
“I was dreading it,” she wrote, “I knew your kids were going to try and pet my dog. I knew you had no intention on telling them ‘don’t pet the dog, it’s working.’
“I tried to put space between me and the people in front of me, so when it was my turn to walk by I could do it quickly, however my attempts to do so failed and I had to slowly walk past you and your kids.”
That’s when something happened that even Laura wasn’t expecting: one of the children reached out and smacked Polly. Laura still remembers the loud thud as the girl’s hand hit the dog’s back.
“My dog is highly trained, so luckily for your daughter the only reaction out of my dog was a tail tuck, and a quick Scurry up in front of me to get away from her,” Laura said.
She looked at the children’s mother and pleaded, “She’s a service dog, please teach your kids not to pet them.”
But instead of apologizing and correcting her children, the mother rudely turned to Laura and jeered, “EXCUSE YOU!”
Laura was stunned.
“Here is what you didn’t see,” she wrote in her letter to the rude mother. “5 minutes before I saw you I got an alert from my dog, my heart rate was steadily climbing, my chest was becoming tight, my vision was going fuzzy, I felt like I was under water.
“You couldn’t tell my hip was sliding in and out of place and every step I took was painful, agonizing. You couldn’t see that your daughter’s actions caused my dog to miss a second alert.
“My heart rate now nearly 120, I felt like I was going to vomit, luckily I made it to my car before the full effects of my heart rate hit me, like a ton of bricks. I almost lost Consciousness. Luckily my kids didn’t have to stand over their mother in the middle of the grocery store waiting for her to wake up.
“Luckily your kids didn’t have to see some woman hit the ground, it can be scary for young kids, and even some adults.
“My dog provides life-saving assistance to me every day,” Laura continued. “She keeps me alive, and safe so that my kids, can enjoy their mother.
“I’m not asking much. I’m just asking you to give the same respect you would expect, had you been the disabled mother and service dog handler.
“So mom, if you’re reading this, know I’m not mad, just disappointed.
“Disappointed you didn’t apologize, disappointed that I can’t shop without fear of your kids hitting my dog, disappointed that as a mom to another mom you reacted the way you did.”
Sadly, it is not uncommon for people to distract and mistreat service animals. Laura hopes her letter will help raise awareness of how to treat these hardworking animals.
Thankfully, Laura and Polly made it home that day relatively unscathed. Let’s hope Laura’s letter works and they never have to face another day like this one again!
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