She Had An Accident

This post was inspired by the day I had with Bright on Friday. It started like any other day; we got up at about 7:30, had breakfast, hung around the apartment for a couple of hours, then headed to work for a 12-9 shift (I hate those). About an hour into our shift, she barfed all over the floor with no warning whatsoever, then again about four hours later, then two more times about two hours after that. Then we went home early.

For all of you that are concerned about her health, fear not. She’s fine.

Accidents happen.

I think  a good alternate title for this post could be “What Not to do When Your Service Dog Poops in the Produce Aisle.” If you take a dog in public every day for long enough, you get used to the fact that accidents do happen. It’s not a matter of if. It’s when

And when it happens, most bystanders will be anything but helpful. Friday, while I sat guard to be sure no one stepped in Bright’s third mess, a guy looked at the floor, looked at her, then asked if he could pet her. Really. Other people stood far away looking horrified, as if they’d never seen puke before, and of course whispered and pointed it out to whoever they were shopping with. If I’d made eye contact, I’m sure someone would have offered to help, but I had all the help I needed.

I’m a seasoned veteran in the realm of doggy bodily functions at inconvenient times. When I was a sophomore in high school, my first dog, Keno, had diarrhea in the carpeted hallway at school. Horror. It doesn’t matter how many times it happens; on some level, it’s always a horrifying experience. You can handle the situation a couple of ways, and I’m going to go out on a limb and say there definitely is a wrong way…a couple of wrong ways, actually.

Exhibit A:

Bright and I are at the mall early in the morning, and no one is around. We’re moving swiftly through the halls when she puts on the emergency brakes and poos on the floor. What should I do?

A. Quick, get out of there! No one saw…save yourself the embarrassment! Janitors are there to clean up messes. Let them deal with it.

B. Correct Bright, clean up, then drop it in the closest trash can, which happens to be ten feet from the pretzel stand.

C. Stay calm, clean up, and take the baggie to the nearest outdoor can.

The answer is always C.

Didn’t ever tell you that?

Stay calm.

The first, and in my opinion, most important part is to stay calm and take charge of the situation. If my otherwise potty-trained dog has an accident indoors, of course it’s embarrassing and frustrating, but there are really only two good reasons for it: 1) She hasn’t had an opportunity to go recently enough, or 2) She’s sick. In one case, it’s my fault, and in another it’s nobody’s fault. Regardless, do not yell, correct, or scold. Seek the advice of a trainer or behaviorist if it becomes a pattern.

Clean up.

We all (hopefully) carry some kind of clean-up kit. In some situations, what I carry is enough to clean up an accident, but if Bright’s sick, I can’t possibly be carrying all of the supplies I need. If I’m with another person, I can send him or her to find help and supplies, but if I’m by myself, I have to employ the help of a stranger – I don’t want to leave the mess for someone to step in. It’s always a little embarrassing to bring another person into this nasty situation, but I’ve never had anyone turn me down. When it’s all cleaned up, I thank my helpers and dispose of the garbage outside, if possible. The last thing I want to do is stink up a store and make the owners loathe dogs.

This is about public relations, people!

Most of the time, Service Dogs are happily welcomed into businesses, but one bad experience for the business can cause access issues for the next dog. No matter what happens, respond calmly and graciously, so that the people in charge can see that you’re handling the situation responsibly. That way, when you leave, they won’t remember the awful dog who threw up all over their floor and be hoping you’ll never come back; they’ll remember the really cool person with the poor puppy who got sick or had an accident, and  they’ll be hoping you get that little guy home and tucked into bed safely. See the contrast?

Benefits outweigh the inconveniences.

When something inconvenient that involves Bright happens, I think about all the benefits of having her by my side. Since she was sick Friday, I didn’t take her to work on Saturday, which meant I had to drive rather than take the train because she usually pulls me, and I’m too slow propelling my chair to get from the train station to work. That alone makes up for any inconvenience she could possibly cause. Plus, she’s cute and furry, and she takes all of my stress away. Gosh, I missed her.

#bright is your favorite pup. You know it.

A post shared by Alex Wegman (@alexwegman) on

Doesn’t she just make your heart smile?

Do you have a horrible, embarrassing story about a doggy accident? Ooh, tell me. I want to hear it.

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10 thoughts on “She Had An Accident

  1. So sorry to hear that Bright was sick last week! We sure hope she is feeling better, and that the two of you will soon be back on the train to work together.

  2. You are very correct that it will happen sooner or later and it is better to be prepared and have a plan in mind before it happens. Once I had settled into the pew at church with the puppy I was raising. She did great through the singing, then 10 seconds into the sermon (the congregation all silent now) she threw up. Did I mention I was in the 3rd pew from the front!?! Very embarrassing! I immediately took her to my car then headed back inside to get carpet cleaner. When I got back to the front I discovered that the friend I was sitting with had cleaned it up, that is a true friend!

  3. glad bright is feeling better, when it comes to our sd getting sick/vomit, that is something we have no control over. as for as them taking time out to doing their business breaks. i was taught at the beginning of my training to get lizzy, keep a task list for 6 weeks. this list includes when i food and water given [times], and times of the business breaks. i try to get her to do something before we go into the place of business and keep a mental track of the time she had food and water. also, labs have a tendency to drool, ie for food, water, business breaks. that is my clue for my service dog. good luck and hang in there.

  4. Socializing pups-in-training is a risky thing, poop-wise. Despite my best efforts, I find myself doing the covert clean sweep on the blessedly rare occasion. My intention is to make the clean up so quick, that folk think the whole event was just their imagination. Anyway, the most embarrassing was when I was raising a poop walker. He would poop and walk, not even break his stride. I learned this when I was asked, did you see what your dog just did? Yikes. I was mortified, which later shifted into just plain paranoia. I was always looking behind me after that.

  5. Pingback: Poop – Everyone Does It « Aspiring Service Dog Chronicles

  6. This just happened to me literally 20 min ago, I am currently owner training my first service dog so I had never though about carrying cleaning supplies, my SDiT Daisy and I were walking around the mall, she was being an ANGEL but apparently there was another “service dog” in there that was barking and being bad, anyway as we were getting ready to leave Daisy puts on the brakes hard and starts to poop, having severe social anxiety and now knowing what else to do I dragged her out of there and sprinted home! She has NEVER done anything like this before and is usually perfect (she will be taking her PAT soon) and I had given her time to use the restroom before I left. Someone please tell me what to do! I feel like I can’t go back there ever again!

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