Dear Readers – especially those of you who arrived here via a search engine in search of “pug service dogs”:
This has been a popular post throughout the years. (Weird, but true.)
I would like to sincerely offer my apology for this post. When I wrote it eight years ago, I thought I was merely describing an amusing situation I encountered at the grocery store while shopping with my 4-year old. I had never seen a pug who was a service dog and due to the circumstances, assumed that Tina the Pug’s owner brought her with him because he loved her dearly, not because she was an actual service dog. I had no idea that pugs could be service dogs. I thought she was a fake. I admit it. I did. I had never met a pug who was a service dog. (And, I’d like to note that I have never met one since.)
Listen. I’m not the only one who is curious about the plethora of service animals. Here’s a whole article in The New Yorker: Pets Allowed: Why are so many animals now in places where they shouldn’t be?
But I said it first, way back in 2007 and ever since, very upset pug owners have written to me and left unhappy comments and read this blog post and become furious with my ignorance. I’ve been the recipient of a lot of venom from hostile pug owners.
So, I’d like to say, I am sorry. I’m sorry I didn’t understand that Tina the Pug was a real service dog. I’m sorry I expected service dogs to wear official vests. I’m sorry that I made light of the fact that I encountered a pug wearing a pink shirt who was actually a service dog. I really am terribly sorry.
And not just because I received the following message to my personal Facebook page. (I took the liberty of including it here in its entirety without censoring it, though I omitted the author’s name for obvious reasons.) I am deeply sorry for the loss of Tina the Pug and I send my sympathy to her owner, even though he hates my guts for posting this silly blog post so many years ago. I meant no disrespect in the first place. I like dogs! I like service dogs!
So, once and for all, I apologize for my post and for my lack of knowledge about pugs as service dogs. I know better now. (If you’re curious, you can read government rules about service dogs here.)
Nov 20th, 11:59pm
I just want you to know that you are an absolute CUNT for accusing me of having a fake service dog that was a pug. You’re a total incompetent bitch and my physical therapist made my female pug a service dog because she saved my life during a staph infection. Your comments are vile. This was in Washington State in 2006/2007. Her name was Tina. She wore lots of pink clothing. Pugs can’t wear a vest. So they give us an ID tag with her picture on it. She was allowed to go everywhere with me. She died 7 weeks ago of cancer. And I am dumbfounded by your ignorance. This was in Lakewood/Tacoma. If this isn’t you please forgive me. After her death I decided to google her and she showed up on your blog or FB. Whomever it was needs to know they are evil.
Still, this was a pretty mean message to send a stranger on the Internet, don’t you think?
And now, for the original post from May 16, 2007:
My 4-year old daughter and I dropped off the boys at the YMCA for P.E. this morning and then drove to the grocery store. I had a page of coupons from the Sunday paper and an intention to shop quickly so my little girl couldn’t ask for too much junk food. I added to my grocery cart the following extraneous items: yogurt fruit snacks, Sponge Bob crackers, a handful of yogurt pretzels from the bulk food bins, a candy bar. Ridiculous, I know.
We’re standing in line, then. By some miracle, she’s sitting in the cart rather than wandering like a free-range chicken. And then a man walks by with a dog on a leash. Seeing a service dog is not unusual at this store–I’ve seen a service dog tethered to a wheelchair on a semi-regular basis. But today? Today, the dog walking by on the leash is a Pug. A Pug in a pink shirt, as a matter of fact.
My daughter leaned over and said to me, “Can I pet the dog?” and I hemmed and hawed and the man heard her and so I said, “Can she pet your dog?” and he said, “SURE!” and picked up that bug-eyed Pug so she could reach it. Then he said, “Her name’s Tina.”
That man stood too close to me with his Pug. My daughter petted Tina’s back and asked about the harness. The man answered eagerly and I thought, okay, enough, put down the Pug!
While I unloaded my items onto the conveyor belt, I could hear the man talking to a woman in the adjacent line. I couldn’t hear her, but I could hear him explaining about Tina and how she doesn’t usually wear her vest that indicates she’s a service dog. He went on to explain that Tina loves to go places, and that her favorite destination is IKEA.
Okay, first of all, a PUG? As a service dog? Seriously?
Secondly, everyone and their five-year old knows that service dogs are not pets (they don’t wear pink shirts, I’m guessing) and no one is allowed to pet them. Unlike Tina.
Yet, if Tina hadn’t strolled through the store in her pink shirt, I’d have nothing to blog about today. So, thanks, Tina! Who knew pugs could be service dogs?!
* * *
January 10, 2010
Nearly three years later, I still get comments on this post and some of them are vicious! Apparently, Pug owners are a feisty bunch and they do not appreciate my comments about Pug service dogs. Relax, Pug Service Dog Owners! I’m not personally insulting you, nor am I saying that your particular Pug (who is adorable, I’m sure) isn’t a valid, Real Service Dog.
All I’m saying is that I seriously doubt that Tina the Pug was a service dog. I am familiar with service dogs and I know that no one is allowed to pet a service dog while it is working. And furthermore, if the dog isn’t working, it shouldn’t be in a grocery store. I’m not saying Pugs can’t be service dogs. I’m not saying your service dog didn’t save your life and discover the cure for cancer. Far be it from me!
So, simmer down.
UPDATE AGAIN (February 26, 2014):
People continue to visit this post through Internet searches pretty frequently. And today I heard the guys on the radio talking about service animals. I can’t find the specific story they were talking about, but it was similar to this: “Fake service dogs a growing problem . . .”