I am realizing now the challenges that come with having a guide dog. Since I have been home Retha and I have been in the honeymoon phase of our relationship. We have of course experienced bumps along the way but everything has been pretty great. I am now seeing the big difficulties that are possible when dealing with the public. I try to be proactive in telling people that she can’t be pet but it seems that some people do not understand or honestly don’t hear me. It is really hard to be assertive when people have the kindest intentions, but I know that speaking up is in the best interest of Retha and I as a team.
Yesterday Retha and I attended a training at school for one of the clubs I am involved in. I think the mass group of excited people made her a bit nervous because she decided to sit down and urinate in the middle of the gym floor. I felt so bad for her because I could tell she was ashamed and it was incredibly uncomfortable to explain what had happened and get everything cleaned up. At first I felt like I had set a terrible example of Guide Dogs For The Blind, but I had to remind myself that first and foremost Retha is a dog. After working through that situation we went walking through the school with some other students when she defecated in the middle of the hallway. Again I was mortified but something just wasn’t right. She is usually really good about holding it and she had many relieving opportunities that day too. Thanks to the help of some amazing people we got the mess cleaned up and I took her out to relieve for a fourth time since arriving at the school.
Eventually I realized she wasn’t feeling well and we headed home early. She proceeded to sleep for the rest of the day and seemed a bit lethargic. This morning she seems fine but I am now fully aware that having a guide dog is in some ways like having a child. Some things are simply out of my control. Most of the time the public doesn’t get to see the mistakes and struggles that a guide dog team has but they definitely do happen. Hopefully with whatever challenges come our way Retha and I can positively represent Guide Dogs For The Blind, even in tough situations.