We were practicing "move" and "retrieve" near a quiet corner of the store. I was pretending to look at a copy of Prognosis Negative, when I dropped some keys.
"Dempsey! Get it!" Dempsey dutifully picked up the keys for me. I dropped the keys again, this time partly under one of the shelves. Dempsey picked them up for me again. We kept repeating this several times, every 5 seconds or so.
When we'd completed a set, I decided to move along. "Dempsey! Move!" We hadn't practiced "move" outside the house, so Dempsey wasn't quite sure what to do. I shuffled into him, until he moved out of my way. We repeated this a few more times.
That's when the store manager came up to me.
"Hi, sir," he said apologetically. "I don't know if you can see, but we're doing some remodelling back here. There are some racks on the floor up ahead, so please be very careful walking there."
I thought this was a little weird. "Um, thank you. I do see the racks, and we'll stay out of that area."
"Great! And, you know, if you need any help or anything picking something up, or carrying something, please don't hesitate to ask one of our associates. We'll be happy to help."
This is when it dawned on me that the manager thought Dempsey and I were graduates. I explained that Dempsey was still a puppy in training.
"Oh, I get it!" he laughed. "I thought he looked pretty young. The way you kept dropping things and walking into him, it looked like your dog needed some help. He's so well behaved for 6 months, I didn't know he was in training. I thought he was working."
We chatted for a bit about the public access test and team training, and how a real graduate would be able to control a dog in public. The manager handled the situation well, not asking why I had a service dog and trying to be helpful. I thanked him for his understanding.
So, to say it "publicly": Thank you to Blockbuster Video for training your staff so well in working with service dogs and people with disabilities! And Dempsey, thank you for making me look so good, albeit nearsighted and clumsy -- which, as loyal blog followers can attest, I am. Can't blame the dog for that one.