What’s with service dogs?

Yesterday I ran into a service dog in Sephora.

My encounter was the most notable thing about my visit, since a make-up specialist told me with pleasant honesty that the under-eye cover-up stuff I already used was the best they sold. Ergo, no need for me to spend any more money. (I could try layering, she suggested, and maybe I will.)

So the dog attracted my notice. (Amendment: the dog drew my eyes — those eyes under which dark circles remained despite my plea for remedy.)

It was a big dog, shaped like a Great Dane but not that big. Its human was a pretty woman around 30 years old. She held him close to her with his leash. She seemed intense, and somewhat anxious, i.e., exactly like any New York woman shopping for cosmetics in Sephora.

The dog was wearing a demi-vest on which an order was written:

Service dog:

No Touch

No Talk

No Eye Contact

This seemed somewhat crabby to me, as well as ambiguous: did it refer to the dog or to his handler?

If the dog, why? Was he a service-dog-in-training, and any communication with the general populace would distract him from his lessons?

Lessons in what? Was he learning to attack anyone who touched, talked to or made eye contact with his human? Or was he learning to attack anyone who (a) petted him; (b) talked to him; or (c) looked him in the eye? [(c) still mystifies me. I looked at him, of course — otherwise I couldn’t have read his vest message — but wondered what would happen if he looked me in the eye, simultaneously. I mean, eye contact could be accidental. The order implied that these bans were my responsibility, not the dog’s and not his handler’s. What would happen to me if the dog and I made eye contact? Would he maybe fall in love with me instead of his handler? Would have been good judgment: I smile, love dogs and know where to scratch them. She didn’t smile and seemed unloving.)

And why did the young woman require a big service dog anyway?

Call me a semi-skeptic about this “service dog” designation. If indeed there are genuine service dogs plying their trade for genuine reasons, I think the humans they’re serving should be wearing the demi-vests, which should state specifically why they need service dogs. In Sephora.

(Maybe I need a service dog to help me cope with the reality of dark circles under my eyes.)



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