Last night was the TopDog Christmas dinner at Carpaccio. It was delicious, and Kristin was home from school, so all of us were there—Freddie, Anne, Kristin, Dianne and me. I took Juno, since earlier in the day Kaline had gotten worked (and been a pain when he was supposed to be settling). She curled up on her mat and went to sleep, as usual.
The power went out twice, which, since we'd already gotten our food, was just really amusing and fun. We had a great time.
And I had a really bizarre encounter with a stranger in the bathroom.
The bathrooms at Carpaccio aren't terribly large. Juno and I went in the handicapped stall, only a smidge bigger than the regular stall, and she sat very primly by the toilet. She tucked in her tail, which meant that just the tip was poking into the next-door stall. I heard someone else come in the bathroom and braced for the inevitable surprised exclamation.
"You ... have a dog in there, right?" she said.
"Yes," I laughed back. She told me Juno was very well behaved, I thanked her, and she left.
Then came No Boundaries Woman.
I'm in there, you know, doing what people do in bathrooms, when suddenly I hear a voice going: "Paw? Paw? Shake! Shake!" and there is a hand reaching under the stall divider toward Juno. Juno didn't even look at the hand. "Oh no, absolutely not," I said, hoping that the woman would think I was talking to Juno and that she, the woman, had gotten the wonderful doggie in trouble. The hand did not withdraw. "She's trained not to respond to commands from strangers," I tried again. The hand went away.
Seriously, who gives commands to someone else's dog that they don't even know?! In a bathroom, no less?
We came out of our stall about the time No Boundaries Woman did. "Oh, a service dog," she exclaimed. "I didn't know that, or I wouldn't have done it!"
Trying very hard to be polite, I said, "Yes, pets aren't allowed in restaurants. It's against the health codes."
From there, I could've said all of her statements and responded to them myself. I knew exactly what was coming every single time she opened her mouth. And yeah, people are curious and I shouldn't be mean to them. But jeez, do I have to be a walking PSA when all I want to do is go pee, wash my hands and go back to dinner with my friends?
"Is she in training to be a guide dog?" Juno was wearing her usual vest with the big handle, so that's a common question.
"No, she's fully trained."
"Oh, so you're blind."
"No, I'm not. Service dogs can do a lot of jobs. They can alert to seizures, help with mobility, help people with diabetes, people with hearing loss ..."
"So what does she do for you?"
"That's private medical information I don't share with people in bathrooms."
And that was the end of it. I have been sharing that story all over and just laughing my head off, but in some ways it's just not funny. There are social boundaries, you know? There are things you just should not be doing. Like sticking your hand into other people's bathroom stalls, for instance!