The front door of the bus I was riding on opened, and when a small child reached the top step, she suddenly started wailing, “No, no!” Her mother quickly paid the fare, picked her up, and carried the now screaming, kicking little girl to an empty row of seats about mid-way back.
What had apparently terrified the three-year-old was a massive German shepherd guide dog sprawled under the front seat occupied by its owner, its head and forepaws sticking out into the aisle.
With her daughter whimpering and clinging to her, the mother said soothingly, “I know you’re afraid of big dogs, but of all the dogs in the world, this is not one to be afraid of. This is a very special dog who helps that man because he’s blind and can’t see. It’s a very gentle and good dog and wouldn’t hurt you.”
The child evidently was not convinced of the shepherd’s harmlessness and told her mother that she wanted to leave the bus through the back door. The mother agreed and then continued, “Do you know that this dog goes to school to learn how to help people?” With that, the girl’s eyes opened wide, and she asked, incredulously, “With other dogs?” The mother explained the kinds of tasks that these amazing animals learn, and in those moments, the child’s demeanor utterly transformed. Wiping away her tears, she began to take sneak peeks around the seat in front of her at the shepherd, which was resting peacefully in the same place as before.
When the man and his canine guide got off a few stops later, the child seemed disappointed rather than relieved, and she continued asking her mother questions. Then when it was time for them to get off, mother and daughter exited via the rear door, both laughing at the idea of a dog going to school.