Since I have a service dog, he obviously accompanies me when I go places. Because everyone loves dogs, I always get stopped and asked questions about him. He's been to a music festival with me recently, and these are some of crazy and funny things I hear from people who see me with him.
1. Is that a dog?
'No, it's a horse'. That is my absolute favorite response and has been a running joke since Bonnaroo 2018. I can understand how a dog, specifically a very cute dog, could draw attention at a music festival; however, I am a little uncertain how a dog could be recognized as anything other than a dog. Thus, I find it entirely too funny to explain that my dog is not a dog, but rather a horse. I hate to admit it, but the majority of people to whom I explain this service-horse-dog-look-a-like phenomenon are totally willing to follow and believe that my dog is indeed a horse.
2. Omg! Can I pet your dog?
Too often I am incapable of bringing myself to say no, but does the general public not understand that service dogs are working animals? While my service dog does not become too distracted from his duties by outside attention, this request is just generally inappropriate. Additionally, it becomes entirely too difficult and time consuming getting from set to set when nineteen people stop you to ask if they can pet your animal.
3. How did you get a dog in here?
'We just walked right in with it!' This is another one of my favorite responses because service animals must always have a displayed service tag. Consequently, one might understand that this dog that is inside music festival gates, hooked to a service dog leash, with service animal tags specific to the current music festival, might actually be there for a reason.
4. I’m gonna bring my dog next time!
*pulls out phone and shows me dog pictures* Ah. As much as I love cute dogs and dog pictures, I'm not particularly fond of slowing down my pilgrimage to my favorite set to stop and look at pictures of a dog I've never seen, that belongs to a person I don't know, that passed away five years ago. Sorry if that's insensitive.
5. What’s wrong with you to have a service animal?
If this isn't the most misguided question I've gotten on the subject, then I don't know what is. I don't have much else to say about it because I feel that this question is obviously very inappropriate. But if it isn't clear already: no, it is not okay to ask why someone needs a service animal. Furthermore, it is extremely not okay to ask in the format of 'what's wrong with you'.
6. Does he lick your hand when you’re sad?
This is a fun one! I've only gotten this question once, but I felt that it was worthy of this list due to the level of comicality. My dog does lick my hand, and my face, and other people, and other dogs… everything really. Much like most domesticated animals, my dog relies on his snout for most of his sensory perception. While there is an affection component to licking, because dog mothers lick their babies in the first few weeks of infancy; my dog is probably just stimulating his senses, rather than licking my hand because I'm sad.
7. Do you cut his hair like this?
What a question about a short haired dog! I guess I can't fault someone for not knowing and/or understanding the difference between a short-haired and long-haired dog. Nevertheless, I still laugh when asked this question because the difference between a shaved, fleecy, long-haired dog and a pitbull with short, wiry, hair seems so obvious.
8. I should totally get my dog to be a "service" animal.
This is another comment that can be a little offensive. First of all, there are regulations as to who can have a service animal and why. Animals have to be trained and registered to be a functioning service animal. Second, making the air-quotes hand motion around 'service' insinuates that my own service animal is counterfeit. My understanding is that because I am not blind – a more commonly accepted reason for having a service animal – that people assume that I must be faking a disability; which is not only offensive to me, but anyone with a disability.
9. Does he need water?
"Thanks, Carol. That's very thoughtful, thank you for asking. But I promise you, I have given him plenty of water." If the conditions of a music festival are too severe for my animal, then we will not be attending. Therefore, if my dog and I are at a music festival, or anywhere really, I have properly prepared the way any mother does: with snacks, water, fans, ice packs, sweaters, ands lots of kibble.
10. Does he like the music?
I surely hope so! I think he enjoys all the festivities: the festival food, people running and twirling with frisbees and hoops, and endless things to sniff.
Lastly, I would like to say that there are people out there that are respectful in regards to my service animal at music festivals; whether that be shown by proper diction or by simply letting my service dog, my group of friends, and I enjoy the festival without interruption.