[nagdu] Grave problems with Pilot Dogs program

Tamara Smith-Kinney tamara.8024 at comcast.net
Fri Apr 15 17:55:28 UTC 2011

Hm...  Personally, I like to have a variety of options to choose from as the
occasion requires.  Although I've never gotten the hang of heeling the dog
and managing the shopping cart with my free hand.  Not without becoming a
moving instrument of destruction, anyway.  /grin/  In a pinch, I can manage
to follow Mitzi's guidance while towing the cart with my left hand, but not
very gracefully.

As for confusing the dog...  There are a number of such statements program
staff come out with as absolute truth (or so it seems to me, often) that
seem very negative and, even now that I'm used to hearing them and know more
about how things work in reality, I always find myself wondering why they
pick such stupid dogs.  I know they don't pick stupid dogs, that our guide
dogs are among the best and the brightest, but I can't help thinking that
still.  My next thought is, I have to confess, "If you can't train your dogs
any better than that..."  Again, I know that's not really how it is, quite
the opposite, but the thought just goes trucking on through my brain anyway.

So now I'm trying to understand what is behind some of those limitations
they (or some of the people involved on the program side) come up with about
their own excellently trained, highly intelligent guide dogs.  I have a
sneaking suspicion it's attitudes towards blindness and that they think
they're being nice by insulting their own cash crop when they think we're
the ones who are too...  Oh, well.  I don't know if that's it, so I'd better
stop my wondering out loud before I get myself in real trouble.  /grin/  I'm
keeping an open mind on the subject, since I'm really only pondering it to
satisfy my own curiosity.

Meanwhile, my dog is the one who confuses me because she is way smarter than
I am.  /lol/  As we've figured out the whole guide dog lark together, she's
actually come up with some strategies that worked better for whatever it was
than what I had in mind.  She has turned out to be really delightfully
flexible and adaptive to varying terrains and conditions and situations,
which is great for me because I like to run around all over the place.  So
does she, so we have fun together.  If it ever stops raining and I can
manage to have enough cash left over for bus fare on a more regular basis.

Individual guide dogs vary about in their various areas of competency, but I
have a tendency to think that any dog who can get through the training and
go on to guide a blind human around in the world has got to be smart enough
to figure out the difference between following on command and having to be
reminded not to follow when it hasn't been commanded to.

I may be wrong there, but those are my thoughts of the moment.  /smile/

Tami Smith-Kinney

-----Original Message-----
From: nagdu-bounces at nfbnet.org [mailto:nagdu-bounces at nfbnet.org] On Behalf
Of Lisa Irving
Sent: Thursday, April 14, 2011 7:30 PM
To: NAGDU Mailing List,the National Association of Guide Dog Users
Subject: Re: [nagdu] Grave problems with Pilot Dogs program

The follow command sounds beneficial. Guiding Eyes discourages the dogs from

following some one in a store.If I've got it right, the person guiding us 
through the restaurant or store is supposed to walk be hind us and tell us 
which way to go. Personally, I find this confusing and frustrating.

Bernie and  I went to the very crowded and noisy winter pops. I tried the 
walk behind me and let me know which way we're going. Bernie was ready to 
blow through the masses. I opted instead to heal Bernie. Even in the grocery

store, it's almost easier to heal my dog and place my hand on the shopping 
cart instead of trying to do it the other way.  The school's rational makes 
sense to me. They contend telling your dog to follow and then reprimanding 
him for following another person at another time is confusing to the dog. 
What do you guys think?

Lisa and Bernie
----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Lyn Gwizdak" <linda.gwizdak at cox.net>
To: "NAGDU Mailing List,the National Association of Guide Dog Users" 
<nagdu at nfbnet.org>
Sent: Thursday, April 14, 2011 2:45 PM
Subject: Re: [nagdu] Grave problems with Pilot Dogs program

> Carin,
> I've known several people who got dogs at Pilot.  They went during the 80s

> and 90s and they had traffic training and their dogs worked fine as far as

> I could see.  What I did hear is that they don't teach the "Follow" 
> command. I have since heard that other schools aren't teaching the 
> "Follow" command either.
> To me, the "Follow" command is a very good one that I use all the time 
> when I'm in a store or just out and about with other guide dog users and I

> don't know the route - usually inside a mall or store.  Out on the street,

> I use the regular guide commands.
> Lyn and Landon
> ----- Original Message ----- 
> From: "Karen Alexander" <kalex710 at gmail.com>
> To: <nagdu at nfbnet.org>
> Sent: Wednesday, April 13, 2011 4:42 PM
> Subject: [nagdu] Grave problems with Pilot Dogs program
>>I spoke with Alec a member of Nagdu and a guide dog handler. I found out
>> that Pilot Dogs train their dogs for only three months. It seems that 
>> they
>> are not thoroughly trained with traffic, etc. I am just in the beginning
>> state of choosing an organization.
>> I could used input from anyone on this list regarding Pilot Dogs both
>> positive and negative.
>> It is a grave concern to me to be given a dog who could put both of us in
>> harms way. How can a service dog organization not be called out for 
>> unsafe
>> dogs?
>> The newbie,
>> Carin
>> Karen Alexander
>> home:    330 864 8351
>> mobile:  330 715 4690
>> 710 White Pond Dr #705
>> Akron, Ohio 44320
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