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A word on sidewalk etiquette

When Sparkle the Seeing Eye pup is rolling along on the sidewalk, she needs a little personal space.

The other morning, we were doing our usual brisk clip around the neighborhood, with Sparkle pulling ahead out in front, me in the middle, and Porter trotting along behind -- our customary on-leash formation.

As we headed along one stretch, I spotted an acquaintance walking her dog on the sidewalk toward us. I know her dog, and he is not at all vicious but he is a young guy and exuberant.

As I typically do in this situation, I crossed over to the other side of the street to give them plenty of room to pass. Instead of affording me a wide berth, the other dog-walker took way out into the street (about two-thirds of the way toward me), causing Sparkle to start lunging and straining against the leash. It was obvious then that the other person was hoping the dogs could "greet" each other  nose-to-nose.

While the other walker paused expectantly, I gave a friendly greeting, complimented her fine-looking dog, and kept my two charges walking at a normal pace. I sensed that she felt snubbed or at least disappointed by my apparent brusqueness.

I'd like to clarify that we by no means discourage people coming up to us and asking about the Seeing Eye pups, but there is a sense of personal space when we are out walking. These walks are serious business for Sparkle. She is not in formal harness training yet, but it's essential that I keep her on task and looking ahead, not getting distracted by other dogs.  Besides, going face-to-face with another dog can be dangerous. (I posted back in September about how Sparkle got bitten in the lip through the fence by a dog that was visiting next door at a party. It prompted a scary trip to the emergency vet clinic and some expensive surgery.)

So please don't feel insulted if you see  a Seeing Eye pup out in public and the handler holds back from a close encounter with your dog. Best to just say hi and let everyone keep on rolling...