My Poor dog, Getting all the Blame

I feel like I’m repeating myself, but whatever. I guess repetition is good.

Let me try and explain something once and for all. When I’m standing at the corner getting ready to cross the street, my dog does not decide when it’s safe to go. I do. If I say go and she sees cars coming that would for sure hit us, she can refuse to move. But if nothing’s in front of us and I say go, she’s going to go. She does not interpret street lights. Most dogs are colour-blind.

I’m saying this because of something someone said to me the other day. I was standing at an intersection where the traffic is kinda hard to hear. It also has an advanced green. I heard the advanced green start and counted to five, which is usually a safe bet for hitting the green for me. I told her to go. We started off, and a dude blew through in front of us. Trix slowed down enough so we wouldn’t be road meat and then we kept going. When I got to the other side, a guy ran over to me and said “Your dog was wrong. She went on the advanced green.” I explained to him that in fact I was the one who was wrong, I decide when we cross, but thanks for letting me know. I heard no more out of him. I don’t know whether he was still there, or he’d felt he’d done his part to impart his wisdom and had run off before waiting for a response. People like to do that.

It’s always extremes with people. I’ve talked about this before in the context of corrections, but I also see it in terms of guiding. People think one of two things. The first seems to be she does absolutely nothing for me. For example, they’ll say “You won’t be able to get through there, there’s too many obstacles and constructi…ok. she just got you through it!” or they think I have to take an arm. Unless she’s being a tool, she’ll follow you. Swing the other way, and I meet people who think I’m just hanging onto the handle and the dog is taking me with no input from me whatsoever. No, that’s why we’re a *team*. I decide where we’re going, she gets me around obstacles, warns me of stairs and makes sure I don’t get crushed by cars. So, if she took me crookedly across the street, that would be a dog-related screw-up. If she slammed me into a pole or stopped to sniff it, that would be a dog-related screw-up. Deciding when to go is not a dog-related screw-up.

This is going to sound strange, but I think I’ll jump for joy if I meet someone who says “You went at the wrong time” instead of “Your dog screwed up.” that will mean I’m talking to someone who knows how the guide dog thing works.

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