Today we met up with Cyndy and her daughter Rachel. They came all the way from Virginia to meet us! We met up at the Concord Mills Mall because that is just North of Charlotte and saves Cyndy from Charlotte traffic and about an hour of driving.
We met up outside of Bass Pro Shops and found a nice quiet corner in the entry way where we could chat. I immediately liked Cyndy a lot, and we had some great conversations about service dogs and disability stuff.
We had to walk through the Bass Pro Shop store (it is HUGE!) to get to the mall, and since they allow pets in there, I let Hestia be on the ground. If she got sick or something in there I would feel much better than if she got sick at a no pet store. But by this time she was perky as ever, prancing around and doing little hippity hops to get treats.
Concord Mills Mall is HUGE, so we walked to the food court. It takes like 15 min of time to get to the food court from outside Bass Pro Shop– yes the mall is that big! At first I had Hestia on the floor and she was doing a good job with heeling, but it was just so crowded that I was worried about her safety. We had to pass really close to a bunch of teenagers that were acting teenagerey and Hestia needed a few treats to get past them.
We bought food and found a good spot to sit. We had a great time talking, and seeing what it is like to go out with a service dog. While I was walking from the food place to our table (with Hestia pouched!) someone did a scream and run away!
Then as we were getting up, this lady in a wheelchair across the room started screaming at me to bring Hestia over to her. I said we had something to do, and so she asked the breed and I said Japanese Chin, and then said something like “well we have to get going!” and waved and turned away. This is a good way to get out of a situation like that, saying bye and walking away. I know the lady was pissed because she wanted to pet Hestia, but it was getting really noisy in the food court and it would have been hard to navigate across so many tables to get to the lady.
Cyndy also got to experience all the oohs and ahhs that people say when they see a service dog, the pointing, the excitement of children etc. Good to see this stuff before you get a SD so you know what to expect when you go out with your dog!
When it was time to go, I was really sad to leave. But an idea struck me, one I’ve never done before. I don’t usually let others handle my dogs, but I trusted Cyndy, so she walked around the scrubs shop with Hestia, giving her lots of treats. It was good training for Hestia to get used to following someone else (I had to stay nearby, still LOL), and a great way to show Cyndy what life with a SD is like.
It was a great meeting, and on our way out, we had to pass through Bass Pro Shops again. We stopped at the aquarium and got some pictures, and a few kids asked to pet very respectfully and seemed calm, so I had them give Hestia treats. It was good.
Here are all the pictures:
PS In some of them you can really tell I’ve lost 13.5 lbs!