Every year, my small, Midwestern town has a festival. I use it as a training/testing opportunity to assess how my service dog is doing on his public access skills in a busy, crowded, high-distraction environment. This year, I was talking with a firefighter about the half-joking possibility of my dog becoming a mascot. We established my dog is very well-trained, not a behavioral liability in any way, experienced in all the necessary skills, etc. Then I was asked if he knows any cute tricks. After thinking for a moment, I opted for one of his tasks and dropped my walking stick to the ground before asking my dog to pick it up. A man who overheard our conversation picked up my stick and handed it to me. I made and held eye contact as I deliberately dropped it and repeated “Buddy, pick up my stick and give it to me.” Of course, he did exactly that once he was able.
Criminologist and Co-Director of Centre for Gender Studies at University of Sussex