God it’s nice to be home, and settling back in with the pooch. She’s so fast, and people are always startled at how fast we can motor. Somebody asked me if she had a slow button. That made me laugh, because at the time she asked, I didn’t even think we were zooming that quickly. But I notice that what used to take me 10 minutes now takes me 3.
But it’s always a bit of an adjustment to deal with the public and the querky things they do as soon as there’s a dog involved. I swear, just bring a dog into the room and you could conduct a study on social behaviour. Then you find out who in the group are the mature ones, and who are easy to turn into little children.
Where should I begin? I guess with the way conversation shifts as soon as people see us, er, actually, as soon as people see Trixie. As I’m getting on the bus, I notice that the general conversation changes from “nice weather…look at that guy with the weird hair…so did you hear that story on the news..” to “dog…dog…dog…doggy!…what a nice dog…labs are so cute…etc. I always know it’s coming, it can just be a little overwhelming sometimes.
Then there are the strange people that seem to be drawn to me. I used to get on a bus and sit down and not much would be said to me, except for the usual stuff, and occasionally someone would ask me a million questions about blindness. Now people work to sit beside me just so they can be close to the pooch. Sometimes, it’s an average joe, but most times, it’s the world’s biggest freak! I had one guy sit down beside me and then tell me his age and start to flirt with me and tell me all about how he got married, got divorced six years later, and how girls don’t seem to stay around…and how old might I be? Yuckers. Come on bus, either dump me or him off!
Another goof sat down beside me and decided to talk to me about all the different TV shows that had dogs in them. We had to talk about the Littlest Hobo, Lassie, Clifford the Big Red Dog, Rin Tin Tin, Scooby Doo, anything with a dog in it. I know the dog can be a conversation piece, but…this is a little much!
Now let’s jump straight to the concept of not petting the guide dog when it’s working. Ok, I get that some people, through some bizarre chain of events or the fact that they’re three years old, don’t know that this is a standard thing. I have no problem educating them on this. I tell them that the dog has to focus, and if it’s trying to earn pets from random passers-by, that will likely overrule what the dog is supposed to do, i.e. make sure I don’t do a face-plant into a planter or have a not so nice collision with traffic. They usually understand and apologize. If I’m lucky, people will ask *before* they start malling Trixie.
But here’s something to really get me steamed. A guy, while talking to me, plants his hand squarely on Trixie and starts petting her. To stop him, I reach down and put my hand over his and ask him nicely to stop. This is his response. “I know we’re not supposed to pet them while they’re working, but…” But what? Please tell me what the but is. But they’re too cute? show some self-control! Do you walk up to a cute baby and start patting its head? What other possible reasons could there be? But they don’t get enough attention and I think it’s cruel? Does this dog look miserable? I’ve been told she even wags her tail while working. Trust me, she gets lots of attention. I’ve always loved Trixie, I love dogs, otherwise I wouldn’t have done this, and every time I go on a walk with her, I love her more and more, so on top of the praise she gets while she’s working, she gets oodles of attention when we’re home. These people have to realize that they’re slowly putting me in danger by petting the cute puppy.
Then some people, while trying to direct me where to go, try and grab Trixie’s leash and use it like a bridle and bit. No, although that looks like the easy way, it’s not the way to go. she’s not a horse, give me the directions and I’ll tell the dog. Or, they go, “Here Trixie, here doggy!” I know they mean well and think this is good, but that’s about as dangerous as petting the dog because it distracts the poor dog from leading me and listening to me. And I don’t want her to start coming to random people who walk by and say, “here, puppy.”
And what is with people’s compulsion to call the dog a he even though I’ve said she’s a she several times? Next time a girl says “isn’t he cute?” after I’ve said “her name is Trixie” or “she’s wonderful,” I’m going to call the girl “sir” to get the point across.
It’s also funny to watch people’s first reaction when they see her. They either start jibbering at us, even if we’re crossing a street, or you hear them take a breath in and watch in silence as we go by. It’s kind of cute to watch.
Three common questions I get, and their answers:
1. “Did you get her from the CNIB?” No. I know that it would make sense that the CNIB would do the guide dog thing, but they don’t. They like to stay neutral and not affiliate with guide dog schools. So no one gets their dog from the CNIB.
2. “Doesn’t the dog interpret the traffic lights and read the street signs?” Nope, knowing when it’s safe to cross and knowing where I’m going are my parts of the deal. She just tries to make sure I don’t become road pizza or slam into poles on the way there.
3. “How old is she? She must be only six months old!” Nope, she’s 2. She’s small, but so am I. That’s as big as she’s going to get.
I think that’s it. I’m sure I’ll have more stories as we go. One thing about having a guide woofer, life is never dull.