[nagdu] Questions About Guide Dogs

Buddy Brannan buddy at brannan.name
Wed Aug 31 02:00:47 UTC 2011

Hi Larry,

Yeah, these guys are great in what they can be taught. Given patience, time, and some training tricks you're likely to learn at guide dog school and pick up along the way here and elsewhere, a dog's ability to learn new skills is amazing.

I do think it's important to discuss the differences in orientation with a dog versus with a cane. While you will use many of the same skills, such as finding landmarks and using environmental clues to determine where you are in space, the landmarks and clues you use with a dog will of necessity often be very different from the ones you use with a cane. A cane will give you a lot of tactile landmarks, and you get a very in-depth idea of your very immediate surroundings. This way, you can know that you turn into the second driveway after the third mailbox on your right. Or, you can know that just past the bench at shin level, there is a trash can, and just past that you'll find a bus stop pole. These kinds of things aren't as easy to do with a dog. Since your dog will treat things in your path as obstacles, you can't very well use them as landmarks, so you have to use other things, such as the change in acoustics (for instance, are you under an overhanging roof or not), changing in pavement texture, and the like, not to mention estimating distances to things. As time goes on, you'll even learn to use things like your dog's reaction as environmental clues unfamiliar routes. Strange but true. I think someone said that with a dog, you've got more of a macro view of your surroundings, where using a cane gives you a micro view, or a more detailed view. Some people don't care about that, while others may well feel very lost without all of the very immediate tactile information one gets from a cane. I say there's a place for both. Sometimes the close-in tactile world is a great tool for teaching your dog something new, but sometimes that same view gets in the way and slows you down. I'm sure I'm not explaining this well at all. 
Buddy Brannan, KB5ELV - Erie, PA
Phone: (814) 860-3194 or 888-75-BUDDY

On Aug 30, 2011, at 9:48 PM, Larry D. Keeler wrote:

> My neighborhood is very walkable as well.  My mobility is pretty good.  I like working with my Holly for a few reasons.  We can move really fast and not have to worry about bumping into anything.  For instance, I have to transfer busses often.  I try to run to catch the next bus and bump, bump, bump!!  I would have to have a head like a musk ox to survive all of those posts I bump into.  And a 30 foot cane to hit them in time to stop!  I haven't hit 1 post with Holly!  Also, Holly is just a great companion!  I forgot, she also will go around those cars who insist on sticking out in stopped traffic and finding those curb cuts quickly.  And she also finds the push button lights and now, the sheltered bus stops!  I'm trying to think of a way she can find the bus stops that are not sheltered.  
> Intelligence is always claimed but rarely proven!
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