I have been feeling anxious when out walking because I never feel like I can keep the six feet of distance. This is not helped by Shmans’s tendency to kind of buzz people as they go by. Sometimes she just scoots past them, and sometimes she has sniffed people in a moment of weakness. Either way, we are definitely getting closer to people than I would like.
Now I hear that guide dog schools have been getting complaints about guide dogs not respecting physical distancing rules. Yup, people think dogs are going to read the news and know that we have to stay six feet away from people. Uh huh. *facepalm*.
If you didn’t know, they’ve been trained to maintain our line of travel and only deviate from it as much as necessary. So, they will only stay as far from you as is needed to clear you as an obstacle. Obviously I won’t hear you coming, so can’t alter course until we are probably closer than is recommended.
You, on the other hand, have eyes, can see me coming, and can change course as necessary. Problem solved.
The first complaint came in through the guide dog training school’s main phone line.
A caller was angry because a guide dog and its handler had come in close contact with her while walking down a street.
“When the dog passed them on the sidewalk, the dog brushed up against the person slightly,” said Michelle Barlak, public relations specialist for The Seeing Eye in Morristown, N.J. “The person became offended because they thought the Seeing Eye team was ignoring social distancing.”
It didn’t take long for an employee to explain to the caller that the guide dog handler was most likely blind, not a sighted instructor, as the caller had assumed.
“People just don’t realize the dogs are not trained for something like this,” Barlak said, “and I don’t think they stop to think about the guide dog users’ experience, either.”