The moment was caught in a recent TikTok video shared by an account for Jake (@jakethes.d), a sweet yellow Lab who works as a medical and cardiac service dog. Jake’s owner was apparently in a store when it happened and started recording a small part of the conversation without showing any faces.
“It says, ‘Service dog, do not pet,'” a mother is heard saying off camera, presumably after reading a sign or tag hanging from the lab’s collar.
“Awww, what does the dog do?” the child asks, to which the mother replies, “I don’t know what the dog does.”
“He’s a medical and cardiac arrest service dog,” Jake’s owner explains.
But instead of just nodding politely and going on her way, the mom turns to her child to explain just what exactly that means.
“So he can sense when someone is having trouble with their heart,” the mother says. “Like nudge them and let them know they need to get to a safe spot.”
Clearly, this kid-friendly explanation makes much more sense to the child, who then exclaims, “Aww, ohhh!”
“Yeah, dogs are great aren’t they?” the mom says. “[So] when he’s on duty, we can’t distract him.”
The video ends with Jake’s owner thanking the mom and parting ways, though it’s clear by the post caption just how grateful she really was for that brief interaction.
“Another amazing mother and amazing moment caught in the pet store today when a mother brought her daughter up to us to tech her sbout service dogs with jobs!” Jake’s owner captioned the post.
In the comments, others jumped in to applaud the mom too, saying she handled the teachable moment perfectly.
“This mom is who we should all strive to be,” one person wrote.
“it’s so important to teach young kids about this!” added someone else. “It needs to be taught more, even some adults don’t know this!”
Based on Jake’s TikTok account, that certainly seems to be true. The dog’s owner has posted other interaction videos before, which capture just some of the misconceptions that many people have about service dogs.
According to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a service dog is “any dog individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability.” These dogs play a vital role in their owners’ lives and can be specially trained to assist with a variety of conditions like autism, muscular dystrophy, diabetes and even PTSD. While these dogs also form deep, loving bonds with their owners just as regular house pets do, their main purpose is really to help their owners in day-to-day tasks and/or alert others for help if their owner is having a medical emergency.
Labradors like Jake are actually one of the most popular service dog breeds due to their intelligence, friendly nature, and desire to please. But despite their sweet demeanor, that doesn’t mean others should approach them when they’re out in public. The fact is they have an important job to do and need to stay focused.
“If people in the general public either pet, talk to, make eye contact with any assistance dog, it can distract the animal from its work and then the dog is going to not pay attention to tasks it needs to perform,” Rivi Israel, a guide dog program manager for the Guide Dog Foundation & America’s VetDogs, told Reader’s Digest. “That can also distract the handler and put their safety in jeopardy.”
“A lot of people have balance issues and if the dog moves in one direction because it’s accepting a greeting from a stranger and the handler isn’t fully aware of it, it can throw the person off balance and caused them to fall,” added CJ Betancourt, MD, executive director, The Foundation for Service Dog Support.
The easiest way to spot a service dog? Most are leashed, harnessed and/or wearing a brightly colored vest whenever they’re out in public. Some even have tags or ID cards on them with emergency contact information.
As the TikTok video continues to go viral, so does more awareness about the important job that service dog’s play in their owners’ lives. Hopefully, this message reaches the people it needs to so that owners — and their dogs — can feel more at ease in public.
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