Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Guide Dog Myths

In the two years I’ve had Calvin, I’ve been told all sorts of things that he can apparently do and general assumptions about Guide Dogs. So, I think it’s time to clear up at least ten Guide Dog myths.

1. A Guide Dog helps their owner in the house. Truth, only if the Guide Dog has been trained to be a dual purpose dog, they are in fact a normal dog in the house. In Calvin’s case this is chewing bones, destroying soft toys and nudging everyone to play with him.
2. A Guide Dog knows when it safe to cross the road. Truth, a dog doesn’t really have any sense of danger, although they do have some traffic training. A Guide Dog will only go on instruction to cross.
3. A Guide Dog knows where they are going. Truth, a Guide Dog can become familiar with a route, but ultimately the owner is in charge of where they are going.
4. You can tell a Guide Dog to go to Asda or Boots and they will take you. Truth, a Guide Dog doesn’t know Asda from Boots, the owner knows the way.
5. You have to be totally blind to have a Guide Dog. Truth, you just need a visual impairment and prove how a Guide Dog will benefit you.
6. If you are male you get a male Guide Dog and if you are female you get a female Guide Dog. Truth, a Guide Dog is matched based on the speed they walk, personality and other factors.
7. A Guide Dog can avoid overhead obstacles. Truth, they are trained to deal with overheads, but many, such as Calvin can only deal with things at their own head height. I often have tree branches whip my face, but the worst incident has to be a set of fire escape steps that literally knocked me to the floor and my face was bruised for days.
8. A Guide Dog is perfectly behaved. Truth, a Guide Dog is quite well trained, but at the end of the day they are just a dog!
9. The owner name’s their Guide Dog. Truth, a Guide Dog is named at birth and the entire litter will have a letter associated with them, unless they are sponsored. So in theory everyone in Calvin’s litter first name begins with a C.
10. A Guide Dog is yours for life. Truth, most Guide Dogs have a working life of about ten years and after that if the owner needs a new dog, they often have to give their dog up. It has already been agreed with my family that Calvin will remain with my parents once retired.

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