Yes, Noelle and Batman both wear capes, but they share something else, too: a secret identity. Bruce Wayne goes about his day being a well respected philanthropist. Only a few people know he’s also Batman. In public, when Noelle is dressed in her cape and patches, very few people know her real name. Instead she goes by an alias, and here’s why.
Last week for Manner’s Monday, I wrote about waiting in a long line at the deli counter. While I was waiting, a man came over and struck up a conversation about how good Noelle was being. And she was being good. It’s hard doing a down stay surrounded by noise, shopping carts, feet walking by, baby carriages rolling past. Noelle was being wonderful, and I was proud of her.
The man asked, “What’s her name?”
Without thinking, I answered, “Noelle.”
The man crouched down, stuck out his hand, and said, “Hi Noelle!”
Understand, I have a young poodle. She’ll be two on Halloween. Noelle can go from calm and obedient, to high spirited and playful, in the blink of an eye. Noelle has a silly switch, and this stranger in the store triggered it. Boom, Noelle was ready for fun.She never broke her down stay, but she was spring loaded. I got my emergency treat out and got Noelle to refocus. She remained high spirited the rest of the shopping trip, which made things more difficult than they should have been.
Then I remembered what happened. Noelle was well behaved until the stranger called her name. Then I remembered I told people my old SD Honey’s name was Sparkle. People would couch down and say, Hi Sparkle, and Honey would ignore them. Noelle needs an alias. Her new name is Candace.
More than that, I’m training Noelle that when I say, “Candace,” look deep into my eyes and I will give you delightful treats. It will take a few more repetitions, but already Noelle is catching on that her alias means deep intense eye contact. Noelle enjoys giving eye contact, so that works for us.
Does your service dog have a secret identity? Do you have any tips on dealing with strangers? Let me know in the comments below.