Nature | Did You Know

If A Service Dog Approaches You, How You React Can Save A Life

True Stress Management

Ask anyone and they'll tell you about the absolute joy a dog can bring into your life.

But some of our canine friends aren't just meant to act as our loving companions, as plenty of them are tasked with the important responsibility of being a service dog.

While we know not to touch service dogs while they're hard at work, it's crucial to know what you should do if one approaches you.

Although you may be conditioned to ignore them, Tessa Connaughton has issued a cautionary warning on Tumblr about what to do if you see a service dog without their owner.

In an interview with Buzzfeed News, Connaughton explained she got her service dog, Raider, an English mastiff and bull mastiff mix, two-and-a-half years ago to help the 20-year-old with her autism. When Connaughton feels overwhelmed, Raider is trained to apply deep pressure therapy.

In the last few months, the California resident was diagnosed with epilepsy and is having Raider trained on how to aid her in case of an emergency.

"We want him to roll me onto my side, press an alert button that I’m going to keep with me, and protect my head," Connaughton said.

Since Raider is still in the training stages, Connaughton explained he has been temporary trained to leave her side should she have an epileptic fit and seek out help.

Last week, Connaughton went to do groceries, where she slipped and fell on the floor. While she was fine, Raider thought she had suffered a seizure and went to get help.

Unfortunately, nobody came to her rescue.

According to Connaughton, when she went to find her dog, she saw him "trying to get the attention of a visibly annoyed woman with his nose."

"She was swatting at his nose and telling him to leave her alone while she was shopping," Connaughton told HuffPost.

"It stood out to me that if she didn’t realize what he was trying to get at, there were probably a lot more people who didn’t know," she added.

This incident made Connaughton realize a great deal of people didn't know how to react if a service dog approached them.

So, she took to Tumblr to educate the public should they see a service dog without their owner.

While Connaughton's post had close to 70,000 notes on Tumblr, it eventually made its way to Twitter, where it went viral with 202,000 likes and 172,000 shares.

"I see constant posts everywhere reminding people don’t touch the service dog, don’t look at them, don’t interact. However, if the service dog is alone that’s an issue because they’re trying to get your attention," she said.

"It was a good thing I talked about it because apparently a lot of people would have just left him alone."

Now that you know what to do if a service dog approaches you, here are other faithful pups:

[H/T: Buzzfeed News, Huffington Post]

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Maya has been working at Shared for a year. She just begrudgingly spent $200 on a gym membership. Contact her at maya@shared.com