Guide Dog Challenges

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.


About Ali S

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2 Responses to Guide Dog Challenges

  1. Jill Wiswall says:

    You positively represented Guide Dogs on both of those occasions. It can be hard to let people know that when she’s in her harness she’s working but just keep being clear and most people will get it. As for her eliminating, well, unfortunately she’s an animal and unpredictable and it may happen. I won’t say it’s nothing to be embarrassed about because obviously, it was embarrassing. I will say it’s nothing to obsess over. She’s going to make mistakes. Kind people will help you correct them. This is a learning experience for your school staff too-in fact I expect they’ll be pleasantly surprised at how few mistakes she makes. Look on the bright side, as least you didn’t suddenly get your period and bleed through your pants. I had that happen three times in high school. And twice I fell into trash cans that were under leaks in the roof and had to wear wet clothes to class. I walked into a pole at least once a week. Stuff happens in school. Learning to cope with it is part of the deal. You and Retha are a great team and kudos to you for realizing she wasn’t feeling well. She’ll get better at this whole school thing and so will you. I promise.

  2. Mary says:

    I’m sorry you had such a challenging day Ali, but you showed great maturity in recognizing Retha was not feeling well and that the school environment was stressful for her. She will adapt with your supportive care and hopefully people will learn to not distract her. I was shopping with Kellie and her new dog Loki today…it was astounding how many people tried to pet him without asking! Keep on doing what you’re doing and remember AGS is always available to help if you need them! Mary (the nurse)

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