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.