Ever since Danielle Sykora was assigned her service dog, Thai, four years ago to help with her visual impairment, he’s had his own opinions about what the job entails.
The clever dog certainly isn’t afraid to go after what he wants: When treats are at stake, everything is fair game — even if it means bending the rules of his occupation a little.
On weekends, Sykora and Thai travel from Delaware Valley University in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, where she is currently a student, to her home in New Jersey. Sykora and her sister, Michele, love going to the mall on these visits to do a little shopping.
Thai also likes taking trips to the mall for his own reasons.
On one occasion, Sykora was accompanied by her dad, who noticed there was one shop — a pet supply store called Cool Dog Gear — that, unbeknownst to Sykora, Thai particularly liked visiting.
“The first time my sister ever went to this mall, she was with my dad and Thai just veered right into the store without her knowing,” Michele told The Dodo. “The second time we went back there, I wanted to witness it for myself, so we walked in the direction of the pet store and of course he walked right in there again!”
This time, Michele decided to have her phone ready should Thai pull one of his tricks.
Michele caught the sneaky move on video, and posted it to her Twitter account, where the dog’s conniving actions have since gone viral.
Thousands of vis later, Thai still has no remorse for leading his owner afield. “If there is any word to describe Thai, it is probably ‘foodie,’” Michele said. “He will do anything to get a crumb on the floor.”
Thai’s mom wasn’t the least bit surprised when her family revealed where Thai had been stealthily leading her.
This is definitely not the first time something like this has happened, Danielle noted. At school, Thai has the habit of taking her to Starbucks, since he knows she loves coffee — and there’s always a Puppuccino waiting for him. And on a trip to a boardwalk one summer, Thai directed his mom into every store that sold food, passing right by the clothing stores she was interested in.
But Danielle doesn’t hold Thai’s intelligence against him; if anything, it’s made their bond deeper. For all Thai’s mischief, he will never leave his mom’s side — not even for a minute.
“Thai and Danielle have a relationship only a person with a service dog could ever understand. He is her eyes. He goes with her absolutely everywhere,” Michele said. “Even when Thai isn’t working and we are home, if she leaves the room he will get up and follow her everywhere.”
Danielle has been blind since going through surgery for retinoblastoma at nearly 2 years old, and since Thai came into her life, things have been easier, Michele noted. “[A cane] only shows you obstacles below waist level. Thai helps her get around much more easily and finds things on command such as elevators, empty seats, stairs, and obviously … pet stores.”
“The foundation my sister got him from, the Guide Dog Foundation, selects dogs for you based off their personality,” Michele added. “Thankfully, they stuck her with Thai because not only is he her service dog, but he is definitely our family’s entertainment as well.”
The whole family knows what Thai is up to now, but they wouldn’t have it any other way.