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 🙂