Service dogs do incredible things for their owners. Since they're specially trained to cater to the needs of their humans, they can do anything from putting them into the recovery position to helping them find their way to the store. While most of us recognize the abilities of these super-pups, not a lot of us know what to do if one approaches us without an owner. One woman took to social media to tell her story, in the hope that it may raise awareness.
20-year-old Tessa Connaughton has been a mom to her service dog, Raider, for two-and-a-half years now. Raider is there to help Connaughton with her autism, soothing her by applying pressure therapy when she feels overwhelmed by certain situations. A few months back, the Bay Area local was also diagnosed with epilepsy, and Raider is busy learning how to help his owner with that, too. As Tessa's condition is relatively new, the heroic pup is still learning, but one of the things he's mastered is going to fetch the nearest human for help when his mama has a seizure.
Recently, while out shopping, Tessa accidentally tripped and fell. Raider, immediately thinking that his owner may be in trouble, took off and approached a woman, trying to alert her of the situation. Unfortunately, the woman that the faithful pup found just swatted the dog away. While most service dogs will then go on to the next person if they're dismissed, Raider hadn't reached this stage in his training.
At the time of the incident, Tessa picked herself up and was able to retrieve her dog and move on, but she later realized that it could've been an entirely different story. If she had been having a seizure and needed urgent medical attention, Raider's efforts would've gone unnoticed. That's when Tessa took to Tumblr to share a PSA on what to do if a service dog approaches you without an owner. After all, if one woman didn't know, the chances are more people don't. The original post quickly went viral, with reshares on Twitter and on Facebook also spreading the message far and wide.
Despite many posts telling people not to approach, distract or interact with service dogs in normal situations, Tessa believes it's vital for the wider public to realize that this isn't the case when a dog approaches you alone.