A Night Out

Everyone likes to get out of the house and explore the town or find a nice place to eat. It’s fun, different and most definitely breaks up our mundane routines. For Graham, it’s time to work.

Getting Prepared

Restaurants are unpredictable, for the most part. They can be noisy, quiet, clean, grimy… you get the idea. Okay, so for the most part, you can guess if a place is going to be busy or not. A dinner on Tuesday night is going to bring in a completely different atmosphere than dinner on a Friday or Saturday night. Let’s be real. Who really wants to go out to dinner in the middle of the week when they have to get up early for work the next morning? Graham and I certainly don’t!

When I go out with Graham, I have to be ready for all of these factors. It could be loud, there could be food on the floor, it could be sticky or too cramped. Planning is essential!

Graham and former assistance-dog-in-training Maverick enjoying some bully sticks while we have a delightful lunch
Graham and former assistance-dog-in-training Maverick enjoying some bully sticks while we have a delightful lunch

I’ve figured out a very basic plan of attack and it does the trick. First, I make sure that when I get to a restaurant, I ask for a table as opposed to a booth. This allows me to sit more comfortably and to also get rid of any extra seating. Graham then goes “under” and has plenty of space to lay down and, if he feels inclined, stretch out. Next, I bring a long-lasting treat with me. Usually I carry order-less bully sticks. If I’m going out to dinner, I’ll feed Graham a smaller portion of his dinner and then give him the stick to gnaw on. It keeps him quiet, content and prevents boredom from setting in. All dogs get bored, especially excitable and sociable dogs like Goldens!

This next bit is actually something I haven’t tried yet but I do believe it will work. For those gross floors that are covered in anything from crumbs to spilled drinks to salt from the winter outside, I’ve thought about bringing a small blanket (easily foldable and easy to clean or shake out) that I can just quickly lay on the floor before giving Graham his “under” command. Carrying items isn’t always easy with crutches and a rolled blanket would not fit in Graham’s mouth or in his backpack. To solve this issue, it’s easy to find a cute knapsack, perhaps one that matches a purse or small shoulder bag, and bring that along. It allows for more items to be carried and a method of transportation to keep things clean and dry. A small bowl for water could then be possible!

We’re ready to go!

Our Experiences Thus Far

I’ve almost never had issues with Graham at restaurants. Only once were we denied service and we kindly informed the staff of how assistance dogs are allowed into public establishments before leaving (for more information, feel free to check out the ADA requirements).

Sometimes our waiters don’t even realize I have a dog with me! My Golden is the perfect companion, quiet and at ease under the table with his treats. Usually there’s a startled gasp when we finally get up to leave. Other times we’ve had staff come up to us offering water or stories of their own animals. It’s a wonderful way to connect with people, make someone’s day or just teach the public something new.

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