[nagdu] Fwd: A question Julie and Tom

Debby Phillips semisweetdebby at gmail.com
Sun Aug 30 21:17:12 UTC 2015

Hi Tom, I think you need to use your cane all the time.  
Seriously.  I have a friend who had quite a bit of vision, though 
legally blind.  One day he fell into a hole.  He now uses a cane 
all the time, though now he is most of the time in a wheelchair.  
Sorry, but if I were the person from the school and you told me 
that you only use your cane half the time, I'd tell you you have 
too much sight to have a dog.  If GDB turned you down, then you 
definitely have too much vision.  I'd love to have as much vision 
as you.  I'm totally blind, and even in my neighborhood, I won't 
travel without either my dog or a cane.  I'm not ashamed of my 
cane, and I love traveling with my dog, but there are just times 
when I'd love to be somewhere without cane or dog, and be 
anonymous, just a gray-haired woman, melting into the crowd, not 
noticeable at all.

As for overheads, dogs don't handle those well.  I have had to 
show my dog some overheads, and then she will stop if we're in 
that area again.  The funny thing about that is that this one 
particular house had a huge tree or bush, and it extended way out 
over the sidewalk.  My husband and I had begun breaking off some 
of the branches that were particularly obnoxious.  Recently that 
house was sold, and all the branches have been cut back.  The 
first time we passed it, she stopped.  She seemed puzzled, like, 
I know I always have to stop here and let Mom know about this 
tree, but it isn't here anymore.  Now she's good with just 
passing and not needing to stop.  But I digress.  Dogs are lower 
to the ground so it's not natural for them to look up.  You have 
to keep reminding the dog about overheads, and usually I have to 
hit it first so I even know it's there to remind my dog to stop 
and show me.  The other thing Tom, having a guide dog is a lot of 
work.  It's not all glory and wonderful having a dog all the 
time.  I mean, I love it, love my dog, wouldn't want to be 
without her.  But they need to be groomed every day, you need to 
do obedience exercises with the dog, feed it, water it, make sure 
it gets taken out for relieving, they need to be petted, and 
played with, vet costs are sometimes expensive.  They sometimes 
get sick at inconvenient times, like when you're at a hotel, and 
it's the middle of the night.  Cleaning up vomit or diarrhea 
isn't fun.  You have to stand around in freezing weather or 
broiling sun while Dog sniffs every blade of grass or whatever 
until finally they decide to do their thing.  And if it's a 2, 
you have to pick it up.  You may be dressed in your best suit for 
a meeting or church, but you still need to put that plastic bag 
on your hand and pick up the poop.  Then you have annoying people 
who want to pet your dog, talk to your dog, sometimes try to feed 
your dog stuff you don't want your dog to have because it's not 
good for them, people ask dumb questions like, "Is that a blind 
dog?" And then there's family and friends.  "Do you need to bring 
the dog when you come to my house? I have to vacuum every time 
you leave." And yes, that happens even if you do groom every day, 
because dogs shed.  And I really don't want to take your dog in 
my car.  That's just family and friends, to say nothing of cabs, 
Uber and Lyft.  And to top it off Tom, after an average of 7 to 
10 years, your dog gets old and can't work anymore.  You have to 
retire the dog, which causes huge grief.  And then go back to the 
school for a new dog, which won't be like your first one.  And 
you'll have to spend weeks in class training, then go back home 
for six months to a year of adjusting before you are a really 
good team.  And sometimes it doesn't work out with that dog, and 
you have to start all over again.  Or the dog gets sick in the 
prime of life, you spend money that you really don't have to try 
and get the dog healthy.  By this time, you're attached, not just 
because your dog is a great guide, but because you love the dog.  
If the vet is able to help the dog, great! If not, the dog has to 
be put down, you have to go through the grief again, and then 
re-apply, go back to school and the cycle starts all over again.  
So now Tom, do you still want to pursue getting a dog? If so then 
you need to start using a cane, learn to judge traffic with your 
ears not just your vision, and be comfortable with the alternate 
technique of using a cane.  Sorry if ow have presented a grim 
picture of having a dog, but I think it's important to be 
realistic here.  I wouldn't trade you dog for anything, but I've 
experienced all the stuff I've told you about since 1981 when I 
got my first dog.    Debby and Nova

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