Opinion?

I’ve mentioned this briefly before, and its a topic that’s come up on the guide dog mailing list, but I’m curious to know what guide dog owner’s opinions are here?
If theatres and concert venues offered a service to mind your guide dog while you watched a performance, would you think its a good idea?

Many guide dog owners enjoy theatre, music and different types of performances. Venues nowadays usually have excellent facilities for people with disabilities, and will provide a seat in a suitable area if somebody is attending with a guide dog. Sometimes people might not want to bring their dog into a performance for various reasons:
It might be too loud or busy inside and the dog might get frightened.
Standing gigs aren’t suitable for guide dogs.
Somebody may need their dog to get to a particular venue.
Some owners would never dream of leaving their dog alone and may not have somebody to watch it when they are away.

Would it be useful if venues provided trained staff to keep an eye on a guide dog while its owner is in an auditorium? Staff would need to be professionally trained in the basic rules around guide dogs, by a guide dogs organisation. Maybe a certificate or something to prove they have undergone training would be useful. The owner would have to be confident that their dog would stay relaxed while they are away, and not cause any problems. A well behaved dog would just lie with a chew or favourite toy, without requiring constant attention.

Many venues in the UK offer this service, and some even mention it on their websites. Out of curiosity, I contacted a number of venues in Ireland to see how they would react to the suggestion. Out of the ten that I contacted, only three replied. One venue said that they would not do it for insurance reasons. Another said that they hadn’t done it before, but with the right training they don’t see why it would be a problem. The third was a stadium, who wanted me to call them to discuss the issue further. Tony couldn’t have been more helpful. He had concerns, but was aware that they need to do as much as possible to assist people with disabilities. He invited me to come and look at their current facilities, (which I haven’t done yet) and said the venue would be willing to do something about this in the future.
It would obviously be the guide dog centre’s job to encourage venues to provide this service, and since they have so many other things to do, I doubt they’ll consider it any time soon. Its not a necessity, but just an added extra that some people might like to avail of.

When this topic came up on the guide dog mailing list, views were mixed. Some people had positive experiences of using services like this in the UK, while others weren’t so sure. Someone said that it should be a guide dog owner’s responsibility to look after their own dog, and why should we expect staff to do it? Another person pointed out that you wouldn’t leave your child with a stranger, so why would you even consider leaving your dog?

Have you left your dog with a staff member at the theatre before? How was the experience?
If you would never dream of doing this, why not?

I’ll keep my own opinion quiet for a while, while you post yours in the comments section 🙂

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13 thoughts on “Opinion?

  1. Yeah I do not think I could ever do this. As others on your list said- you wouldn't leave your kid with a stranger, why your dog? And I also agree with them that it isn't the facilities responsibility to watch your dog. I suppose if you paid them for the service then that would be different but why should they have to pay an employeer or two to watch your dog? You don't get free aids, those are paid somehow as well either by yourself or the state unless they are family so why expect a free aid for your dog? I have taken James to many performances in the past and they all had a specific disability seating area that was suitable for my needs. I have never been to a rock concert or anything like that though I do not think I would take a dog to one of those as it would be too loud and chaotic.Interesting topic!

  2. I think it is deffinetly an interesting topic!!!! One thought strikes me though. Anything could happen to the dog while it was being looked after, and you would need to have a particular trust in the person that was looking after it!!I think if i had to go to a concert or something, i would leave the dog with someone close by. If i had had the dog when i went to pink for example, i would have left it at my uncles house, since it wouldn't be fair on the dog to be left for over a day on its own, and i'm sure the next day you could go round belfast or something.It's still a really interesting topic. Although you would need assistance too if you were at the concert, like for toilets and stuff.Technically if the dog was kept behind the reception or something, people could be over at it all the time.Just my thoughts. Xxx

  3. Absolutely not. No way. No how. I would never leave Jayden with a stranger. Even when I inquired about grooming at Petsmart and they told me we'd be separated, I decided to look for grooming elsewhere. I wouldn't trust that he wouldn't be fed something I don't approve of, or that something might happen to him. Choosing to have a guide dog has meant a lifestyle change for me. What isn't good for my guide dog just isn't good for me. I'd much rather skip a show or concert if I don't think it would be good for Jayden. There is no way in hell I would turn him over to staff at a venue no matter how much "training" they might have had. I also agree that it's not their responsivility. I chose to have a guide dog. Therefor he is my responsivility. Wow, I guess I feel strongly about this. I have to agree ith the child sentiment, though these days parents are pretty crappy with their children.

  4. Sounds like I am with the majority of comments thus far in saying that I couldn't do it – I have a hard enough time leaving Cricket with someone I know. If I am going somewhere that is not best for her to go .. ie, loud music, or for some other reason she wouldn't be comfortable, I leave her home with someone coming to her or staying with someone I trust. I realize in reading this, couldn't do it.

  5. This is an interesting idea, but I agree with the others who said it's not the facilities' responsibility to watch your dog. Also, whether or not a venue provided this service, I would never be comfortable leaving my guide dog with a stranger.

  6. That is an interesting idea, but like everyone else has said, I could never trust a stranger to look after my guide dog because he is like my child. Fortunately, the concerts I go to are local, so I just leave him at home in his crate where he is perfectly content sleeping the whole time I'm gone. But just like having a child, owning a guide dog means occasionally making a few sacrifices. So if there was a concert I wanted to attend that would be inappropriate for Gilbert and was too far to leave him home, I would much rather miss the concert than trust a stranger to care for my guide dog.

  7. Thanks for the comments so far, and its interesting to see everyone agreeing on the same opinion. I'm going to be seen as the terrible guide dog owner now, but here's my reasons why I think it could be a useful service for some people.I see having a guide dog as a way of enhancing your independence and opportunities, not limiting them. The dogs are trained to fit into our lifestyles, not the other way round. Obviously we have to make some sacrafises owning one, but I would never allow my dog to prevent me from doing things I want to do, just because it doesn't appeal to him or her.I don't need to mention how much I depend on O.J and how much I love having him, but he is a dog, not a child. I will never compare him to one or treat him like one. For that reason I wouldn't worry about trained staff looking after him in the same building as me, just not in the same room.Some theatres actually do it out of good will believe it or not.O.J and I are going to a gig but he's coming too because he can listen to piano and guitar without getting annoyed. It just puts him to sleep, like a lot of things do, come to think of it 🙂

  8. Cool. I can understand that you wouldn't take him to a rock concert, but i can see no reason why you couldn't have the dog just lie under the seat at like a cinema or something.Our team used the analogy that a guidedog is like having a new baby. I'm not sure how true that is, but i think of it as like having a car. Only you have staff always at hand if you need them.All this talk of guide dogs has got me more and more excited about getting future doggy!!!!Xxx

  9. I wouldnt mind leaving my dog nither if they were trained staff but i think i would worry as well, like them feeding the dog chocolate or something! you never know with people.

  10. When I go for an x-ray, I leave my dog with the receptionist, who is usually only too happy to keep an eye on the dog anyway. But to go to a concert, I bring the dog with me. I hear that the zoo in Toronto (which is huge) won't allow service dogs and actually offers to look after them and provide a person to guide one around while the dog sits in air conditioned splendour.

  11. ah sorry my post didnt come out fully. I meant that i wouldnt mind leaving Uma with someone at reception when i go to the gym etc. I take Uma almost every where, we went to the hair dressers earlier, she sits under the table and isnt bothered by the noise of hair dryers, she also enjoys all the fuss and likes eating my hair off the floor!

  12. haha Terri nice to see OJ isn't the only one who eats hair. Its gross!Cathy thanks for the comment. I tried posting on your blog but the audio capcha wouldn't work.There are two zoos in Ireland, and the bigger of the two doesn't allow dogs in and I don't think they look after them at reception either.

  13. lol i thought it was just my mental dog, she used to get excited by the hair falling but has got over that now. Glad i'm not the only one anyways!

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