What if, you are visually impaired or blind and want to be more independent. What if, you use the cane but aren’t comfortable or confident or don’t feel safe walking with it. What if, you hear guide dog owners speak of how much freedom and independence their dogs give them, and how they couldn’t imagine not having one. What if, you would love this freedom, confidence and independence, but don’t really like dogs. You haven’t had much experience with them, and you worry that you wouldn’t be able to bond with one or look after one properly. Is it possible to be matched with a suitable guide dog and develop a good working relationship with that dog and trust it to guide you safely? How do you trust that dog if you don’t really like dogs? And, in that case, do you view your dog as a mobility tool rather than a companion?
Anyone who knows me already knows that I am a doggy person, have always loved dogs and will hopefully always own at least one throughout my life. I couldn’t wait to begin guide dog training, because training with a dog was all I had ever wanted when I was small. The training was difficult, challenging and exhausting, but I really enjoyed it. I’m convinced that one thing that made it a bit easier was that I had lots of previous experience with dogs. I could concentrate less on the daily care of the dog, and more on the new skills and techniques that I needed to learn to work with it effectively.
I know there are people who successfully train with guide dogs who have had little or no experience with dogs before. I have heard of people who were afraid of dogs before, but for some reason decided to overcome their fear and train with one. I know someone who enjoys working with their own guide dog but isn’t too fond of other dogs. I also know that there are people who view their guide dog primarily as a mobility aid that helps them get from A to B safely, and could do without the so called companionship it offers when it is off-duty.
I’m not saying the above situations are wrong, or the incorrect way to approach guide dog ownership. If anything, I admire people like this. It must be very difficult to put your trust in an animal if you aren’t very fond of them to begin with. It must be difficult to have to put so much time and energy into looking after it, cleaning up after it, taking it to the vet etc. I’d imagine its difficult to bond with a dog if doing this doesn’t seem natural to you. It must be a huge learning curve, and one I don’t honestly think I’d be brave enough to deal with. I doubt there is evidence that suggests that people who have had lots of experience with dogs make better guide dog owners or are easier to train. There is a good chance that they tend to concentrate on the pet dog aspect or on previous experiences more, and lose sight (pardon the punn) of the fact that the dog is a working animal and things have to be done in certain ways. If you can successfully train and work with a dog no matter what your doggy background is, the instructors will give you one. If you weren’t suitable, you wouldn’t be matched. As long as the dog is healthy, happy and working well, that’s the main thing right? Or is that enough?
Can someone possibly go from not really liking dogs to successfully working with their own guide dog?
I’m just curious!