I know we haven't been posting as regularly as usual; I suppose that's what I get for working three part time jobs and deciding that my social life could use some livening up at the same time. At the recommendation of a good friend I recently signed up for an online dating site and am pleased to say I have gotten a few responses. A few weeks ago Shiloh and I went on our first date and I thought the process I go through when dating with my service dog along might make and interesting discussion for readers of Service Dogs: A Way of Life.
First, in my online profile I make it very clear that I am a person with a disability who is partnered with a service dog and uses a wheelchair ( I do stop short of saying exactly what my disability is in my profile, since I prefer to be able to name it and explain to those who are genuinely interested in me myself. Also, by leaving it out I hope to avoid nasty stereotypes or people with some sort of fetish.)
Second, I also make it clear that I am a dog enthusiast to say the least bording on efficianado and those who do not also love dogs need not bother. Love me, love my service dog.
Third, I make no bones (pun intended) about the fact that if we meet and my dog does not like you, I am out of there. Do not pass go, do not collect $200 style. I consider my service dogs to be great judges of character, since they generally like most everyone. The few times I have run across people they did not like, I was always glad to have put my trust in their judgement.
Fourth, I always take my service dog on a first date. I figure it's just as well that they get the whole picture up front and if they decide they can't or don't wan't want to deal with it then we are only out the time and expense of a drink.
Fifth, I always explain that my service dog is working while we are out and cannot be pet without my permission and can't be fed while working or accept treats from anyone but me. They may, however, ask me whatever they like about what my service dog does for me. This also prime time for them to ask about and see the level of my disability for themselves.
I must smile because my dates usually say something along the lines of "I wish my dog were so well behaved." or "Your dog is better behaved than those kids over there."
Sixth, I freely admit to primping my dog as much as I do myself before a date! After all, you only get one chance to make a first impression.