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To Pet or To Not Pet-

 In Service Dogs

I, (as many people) get super excited every time I see a dog in public. Though I am always aware to whether or not the dog is a Service Animal, my instincts never fail to want to visit with the dog. Well this is the case for many as they see Service Dog in Training, Scout, out and about. Scout is one of 12 Service Dogs in Training at Paws for Purple Hearts Virginia (PPH VA), he is a fun loving, people person dog and a very sweet yellow lab who is a little over a year and half. Jokingly we call Scout our mascot, as his Puppy Parent takes him everywhere, Scout has become the face of PPH VA.

Greetings from Scout

While Scout is in the community, you will find him with his Paws for Purple Hearts vest on (pictured above), as all Service Dogs should have some form of identification. Scouts vest reads, “Service Dog in Training”, this is an indicator not to approach Scout while he is working. If you do approach Scout in public, you will hear his Puppy Parent explain that Scout is working. When asked, more times than not they will ask Scout to “sit” and then “go say hi”. This is Scout’s permission to greet strangers. So why is Scout allowed to say “hi” and other Service Dogs aren’t?

Expanding Scout’s Horizon

Scout’s training includes everything from learning commands for mobility impairments to socializing for therapy. Giving Scout the opportunity to greet strangers in public expands his horizon. This helps him familiarize himself with different environments everywhere he goes, as not everyone has the same smell, body gestures, appearance or tone of voice. Now, this is not permission to run up to every Service Dog you may see!  There are times where individuals may approach Scout and his handler is focusing on a specific command, therefore socializing would only be a distraction. Like Scout, many Service Dogs are working, and their full attention needs to be directed to their handler.

Oh, Look There Is A Service Dog, What Should I Do?”

If you see a Service Dog within your community the best thing to do is smile and keep walking. It is easy to make baby noises at the dog, or maybe that is just me, but this can break their focus. Service Dogs have a serious job to do, and nothing should get in the way of carrying out their important tasks successfully. So, whether you see Scout or another Service Dog in your community, take a minute, admire from afar and remember the great work they are doing!

If you want to learn more about Service Dogs we invite you to visit one of our Paws for Purple Hearts locations. There will be staff members waiting to greet you and ready to educate you on how Service Dogs and Paws for Purple Hearts is impacting the lives of others. If you would like to see the impact first hand, we invite you to become a volunteer! By doing so you will be on the front line of meeting the needs of our Warriors. If you are unable to volunteer, please consider donating to our mission, liking our site specific Facebook pages, signing up for Amazon Smile or donating items from our Amazon Wishlist.

Scout flashing a smile to those walking by!
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