I thought I’d try and explain something that I’m sure looks weird if you saw it and didn’t know what the hell was going on. Have you ever seen a guide dog team cross the same street a few times? Have you wondered why in hell they just keep going back and forth over the same street? Your first thought might be that the person is lost. That might be the case, or they could be reworking an error, and that’s what I want to explain.
When a guide dog makes a mistake, it’s not a good idea to gloss over it and just keep going on your merry way. If you do that, the dog may think that what they just did is perfectly fine, and they can feel free to do it again. If at all possible, you should stop, go back, and make sure that whatever they just did, they don’t do again, and they do the right thing. This is called reworking an error. So, if you get smacked into a pole, you should bring the dog back, show the pole to them, and get them to walk past it again and not hit it. If you hit it again, you go back and do it again. When you walk past it without meeting it with a ker smack, you praise your dog!
The same is true of a street crossing. If you cross the street and come up on the other side in a weird spot and not where you should come up, you need to turn around, find the corner, cross over to the side where you just came from, and cross it again until you come up where you should. Does that make sense?
to the person who doesn’t know what we’re doing, it must look completely ridiculous, especially when I’m choosing to cross a very busy street repeatedly. People must think I have a death wish.
The other day, Trixie had a very confused day. I think it was because the snow had melted, and she was trying to avoid phantom snowbanks. It was kind of funny. One of the side-effects of this was she kept crossing this one street crookedly. We would come up far to the left of the curb, standing in some grass.
Somebody saw me crossing and crossing and crossing. She kept asking me where I was trying to go. Try as I might, I could not explain the concept of reworking to her. Every time I tried, she would cut me off with “Yeah, but where are you trying to go?” At this point, the destination is irrelevant. I’m just trying to get across this street straight! She was the one I asked to stand in the same spot so I could cross, turn around, and cross again and know we were on the right track. Her response was to wish me luck and take off.
So the next time you see a guide dog team crossing the same street over and over, feel free to ask the person if they need help. If the person says no, ask if they’re reworking a crossing, and you just might make someone’s day because you’re one of very few people who get it!