This is a post for the third assistance dog carnival, hosted this time by
The Trouble Is…
The topic this time is reactions, and I wasn’t going to take part, simply because I couldn’t think of something to write about. Then I decided I’d write about a mixture of things, a mixture of ways people have reacted, both positively and negatively to O J.
The first unusual reaction that I noticed towardsO J was during our training in Cork in August 2007. I was sitting at a cafe with two of the other trainees, waiting for our turn to go for a walk with our trainer. A man came over to look at our dogs, two goldens and O J being the only black. He commented on how well behaved they were, and then said that he’d heard how the black ones didn’t have as good of a temperament as yellow or chocolate labs. My classmates and my trainer reassured me that I had absolutely nothing to worry about. If black dogs aren’t as friendly, O J doesn’t follow this stereotypical rule.
I guess about 95% of the people we meet react positively to O J. Many people comment on his handsome looks or his gentle personality. I’ve had people ask if they can pet him, which sometimes turns out to be more of a cuddle or a hug. Many people have offered to look after him when he retires. People who know us often say hello to him before me.
Some people tell me that they don’t like dogs but they like him. I have worked, and currently work with people who are afraid of dogs, and wouldn’t touch one in a million years, but they respect O J’s work as a guide dog, and my right to have him in our office.
Children’s reactions to a guide dog are always interesting. They regularly call him a “guard dog” or “blind dog”, ask loudly, “why is their a dog in the shop” to their parent’s embarrassment, and pet him without asking first. They are children, a guide dog in a harness is a novelty to them and they will never learn how to behave around one if they are not taught correctly. Instead of becoming frustrated at them, I use these interactions to educate them about blindness. If only teaching adults was so easy!
Adults are strange. Mostly they are genuinely interested in how a guide dog works, and they like to ask questions. Sometimes though, I meet the odd one who just doesn’t get it, and no amount of explaining will change things.
Like the people who call him over to them when they can see that he is guiding me. I usually tell O J to go “straight on” in a firm voice loud enough for them to hear, and hope they’ll get the message. I’m always happy when O J ignores them and walks on.
People who don’t get it, like the man who quickly dropped something in front of O J while we were waiting for a bus, and casually said, I just gave the dog a biscuit. When I explained why this was not acceptable, and he could see that I wasn’t pleased, he walked away and said nothing.
The strangest of all happened just after Christmas, when I went to look at furniture with my mum. The shop owner came up to chat, and proceeded to ask about O J, like he’d never seen him before, which he had. I suddenly felt O J’s front legs move off the ground like he was jumping up. He never does this, and definitely not in harness, so I was very surprised. I firmly corrected him, only to be told by my mum that the shop owner we’d been talking to had actually lifted O J’s front paws off the ground. He put him down and carried on talking as normal as if nothing had happened. Needless to say, I didn’t buy any furniture there, and don’t plan to in the future.