Went to get my hair done on Wednesday prior to going to the grocery. 10 yo grandson was with me, working on his homeschooling work. Of course, Emmy was with us. She went “under” a chair in the waiting area, and waiting very patiently while I was shampooed, conditioned, cut and styled!
When I was done, we decided it was officially lunchtime. Better to eat before going to the grocery – fewer impulsive purchases! So we dropped in to the Subway next door. We ordered, and Emmy was the height of decorum. I did have to restrain her to prevent her sniffing at the chips shelf, but her nose never touched a thing. We sat down, Emmy “under” the table, and were starting to open our lunches when one of the counter people called me over. I struggled over – with Emmy – and was told that the GA health code prevented animals in restaurants. I tried to explain that the ADA AND the GA ADA laws all specifically allowed assistance dogs to go into restaurants, showing them the card I had about the laws, but they were adamant that I would have to leave. They put me on the phone with the manager (who had a couple of children screaming in the background) who told me I would have to leave. Finally I just said, “Look, if you really feel strongly about it, call the police. I’m going to sit over here and eat my lunch.” My heart was going about 50 beats per minute faster than usual, and I was a little shakey, but pleased with myself for my handling of the situation – without losing my temper over their obvious ignorance.
The police never arrived, so grandson, Emmy and I left AFTER completing the meal – with Emmy on her very best behavior, of course! As I was letting her attempt to “do business” in the green grass on the other side of the parking lot, a gal from one of the other businesses in the little strip shopping center came over and wanted to pet Emmy. I was still feeling a little anxious and politely told her we were still a new partnership, but after a couple more weeks I’d be glad to let Emmy “say hello” to her. She was very understanding and amenable to that. Turns out she knows two other families in the area who have service dogs, so we had a nice conversation, and I told her about the “incident” at Subway. She became upset and was ready to do battle, but I pointed out that the workers and the manager all had Bangla accents, and obviously just didn’t know about the laws other than the Health Code, and it was a matter of education.
So, Emmy did her little “curtsy” – her way of saying, “I’m trying, Mom, but I really don’t have to go” – and I loaded her into the car and fastened her seatbelt harness. About that time, the gal came running up and said, “The cops just pulled up and went into Subway!!” So, I limped in and approached the *very tall* officer who was in line. I asked, “Are you just here for lunch or are you here because of me?” He said (very nicely in a bass voice – I LUV bass voices), “I’m here for lunch. Should I be here for you, and what for?” I said, “I was in here with my service dog – who is now in my car – and they wanted me to leave and I told them I was going to eat my lunch and if they wanted to call the police, they could.” He laughed and said, “No problem. I would have told them they were wrong!” I said, “Thank you so much!” and left.
Outside, the gal and a guy from the business the other side of hers were both out there on the sidewalk about 20 feet down from Subway. She said, “Your attack squad is gathering!” I said, “Thanks so much! But the VERY NICE policeman just came in for lunch, and wasn’t there for me!” We exchanged several more pleasantries, and I drove off. I’ll make a point of going by to see them in the next couple of weeks with Emmy for a nice visit. Made me feel sooo good to know there were some people around who understood about service dogs!! They said they would fill the manager in on the particulars of the laws about assistance dogs next time he showed up. Nice to have an “attack squad” on my side! LOL!
I’m so glad this ended well. I’m sure this is only the beginning, and was good practice for me. My grandson was interested about it, and was kind of unbelieving of the entire episode. It was a good educational experience for him.