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The top ten silly questions we get asked when out fundraising with Clive ....

Posted May 26 2011 12:30pm
Clive has been working with Murray for the past five years and we have put in a lot of time fundraising for Irish Guide Dogs during that time.  We enjoy fundraising and we are very happy to fundraise.  It costs €38,000 to train and maintain a service dog like Clive from Irish Guide Dogs for the duration of his working life.  We have fundraised in schools, in offices, in banks, outside churches, at active retirement groups, in shopping centres and on the street!

Having a dog alongside you when fundraising for Guide Dogs always makes a difference and Clive certainly makes a BIG difference.  Mostly we really enjoy fundraising and meeting people.  We have no problems telling them the story of Clive and Murray and the huge impact Clive has had on Murray's life.  However, every now and then you have to wonder at some of the questions that people ask you ....

Our top ten most annoying questions to be asked are ...
  1. The dog looks unhappy, are you really sure he's happy to be here? (Honestly!! - you only have to see Clive happily working away, tail wagging, ready to meet and greet to know that this is one happy dog!)
  2. Is this dog going to bite me? (after they have petted Clive and not even first asked if they can pet him? and also he's a service dog so hardly likely to be aggressive)
  3. I don't see how dogs can help autistic kids - how does that dog know the kid is autistic?  Did the dog study autism? (yes, indeed people can be very smart with their questions - assistance dogs have been working with children with autism for over 8 years now in Ireland and it has been proven that these dogs as well as providing security for the child preventing them from bolting, also help reassure and calm the child and enable to child to go places and do things they previously find difficult).  The relationship between the assistance dog and child with autism is amazing and the dogs are truly special.
  4. That dog is ignoring me when I call him?  I don't think he's well trained at all? (really, well maybe the fact that he is working and lying under a table while we fundraise means he should be left alone and not be expected to respond to you 'calling him' from several feet away! 
  5. I don't think that dog should be in this supermarket? (or restaurant, or shopping mall, or hospital)  - Okay, you might think that but this dog is a working dog and is fully entitled to the same public access in the same public places as you!  It is actually against the law (in Ireland at least) to refuse access to any working dog or puppy in training).
  6. I've heard how you train those dogs - it's not right - the dogs get over trained - they forget they're just dogs?  (yes indeed!!  - people have some odd ideas about how service dogs are trained and not for one moment does Clive ever forget he's not a dog - just watch him free-run when he's finished working).
  7. Why doesn't your dog do tricks - I thought you said he was well trained? (yes, he is very well trained but as a working dog, not to do silly tricks when you stop him in the middle of the street and get annoyed when you say 'roll over' and he just ignores you!
  8. I don't think that dog is a 'service dog' at all?  (and why is that?) - "well, he's too tall, too big, curly, too good-looking (yes, we get told that!) not a Labrador, not a German Shepherd etc etc" (- we get variations on this question all the time so we explain again about the variety of dogs bred by Irish Guide Dogs and how doodles are being trained because not only are they extremely intelligent and quick to train but also non-shed and hyper-allergenic).
  9. Your dog is not being friendly to my dog - why is he ignoring my dog? (well, perhaps because Clive is working with his 'service jacket' on him and he knows that so he is paying no attention to distractions (such as your pet dog that you keep trying to push into his face for a reaction!)
  10. I'd love one of those jackets for my dog, where can I buy one?  and then "What do you mean, I can't get one, my dog is as well trained as your dog and just as entitled to go places with me"  (really, I don't think so.  Clive is working (and we explain all over again about the job he is doing).  Your dog may be very well trained but he's not a 'service' dog).
That is just some of the questions we're asked - there are lots more, some silly, some funny, some annoying, some insulting, some really down right rude but mostly, as we said, we just smile and answer and carry on either working or fundraising.

Clive has been working with Murray for five years - five fantastic years and we are hugely grateful to Irish Guide Dogs for training Clive and placing him with our family!  So for the most part, we are always happy to talk about Clive and go fundraising ....

and as for the woman yesterday who queried why we were in a supermarket and then complained to security and then claimed that Clive had 'peed' in the shop - all we can say, "we've had people like you complain about Clive before and then make up stories about him" - "Clive has never, ever 'peed' while working and to try and deny a special needs child and their dog access to a store by making up stories is very sad! Now, would you like to make a donation to Irish Guide Dogs ....."

- Clive & Co

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