Today I was reminded of the joys and problems of guide dog ownership. My training with my new guide dog, Trigger continues to go well. We enjoyed a successful walk from my home to my office and it was great to feel part of a partnership between man and dog. However, on the way home several people insisted on stroking Trigger despite the fact that his lead carries the message, in big letters please do not distract me. The problem with distracting a guide dog is that the dog loses concentration which can lead to it’s owner becoming intimately acquainted with a lamp post or other obstacle! I’m very happy to allow people to stroke Trigger, however there is a time and a place for everything and this is (most certainly) not when the dog is working in harness! Most people understand when I explain the dangers of distracting guide dogs, however others seem wholly incapable of grasping the fact that it is not a good idea to break the concentration of a working guide dog. The worst case I came across relates to my previous dog, Drew. One day I was crossing the road when (right in the middle of the road) someone began to stroke her. I was gobsmacked, simply lost for words!
Most members of the public are, thankfully very helpful and I’m extremely grateful for all the kindnes which has been shown to me over the years but I do wish that the minority who insist on distracting working guide dogs would desist from doing so.