Most guide dog owners know that when your out and about with your dog, you meet all kinds of people who sometimes say and do the strangest things. Here’s a few situations I’ve encountered during the last week.
Last Tuesday my cousin and I went to Lydl to get some food to make lunch. We met a friendly woman who stopped to talk and to talk about how nice O J was etc, the usual conversation. She told me that she had a black labrador that looked very like him when he was younger. It was a great dog and she was mad about it, and it died. I asked her when it died, and she said:
“It died this morning.”
Awkward! What was I supposed to say after that?
As we made our way towards the counter I heard a little child saying, “mammy I nearly petted it”, obviously talking about O J. She was coming behind me and O J kept walking so he mustn’t have noticed. Then the mother said, “just run up and touch its tail really really quickly.” I told O J to walk straight on, making him speed up towards the counter. I was so annoyed, not because the child or the mother didn’t ask if they could pet him, but because the mother encouraged the child to touch a working dog, acting as if myself or my cousin weren’t even there.
While we were paying for our things, a small girl came up and asked if she could pet O J, and I told her that of course she could and that she had lovely manners to ask first. I just wish that other mother had been behind me.
Today I walked to town with my parents, O J and Dougal. As I was coming near the beach I met a woman with a big dog, which got very excited when it saw O J. He was excited too but I encouraged him to ignore it and walk on. The woman said, ”’oh, my dog just wants to say hello’, and I explained that O J was working and couldn’t play with other dogs because it would distract him. The main reason that I did this was because she made no effort to take control of it or stop it from blocking our way as we walked. About five minutes later we had to walk past the same dog again, who ran at O.J making him yelp. I thought he had maybe bitten him, but my dad told me that he had a muzzle on, so they must have just banged heads or he put his paws on O.J and frightened him or something. The same woman didn’t appologise or even acknowledge that anything had just happened.
Meeting her today made me really question how much adults honestly know about guide dogs. Is it presumptious of guide dog owners to think that everybody knows what that harness means? Do people like her not care, or do they genuinely understand the purpose of a working guide dog? Maybe we as guide dog owners still have a lot of educating to do, and it shouldn’t just be taught to schoolchildren in the classroom.