• Natural Dog

Can we have a little Respect for the Guide Dogs - Please!

Over the last couple of weeks I have pondered this issue.

Specifically re The Guide Dogs NSW/ACT campaign, that if you see a service dog in a harness "do not pet it" "or interfere with it" in any way and "keep your dog on a lead"!

This morning as I was walking from Nobbys to Newcastle baths which is my usual morning routine, I marvelled at the morning light heralding the day and I observed the streaks of pink that told me that the weather may be inclement. A pink sky at night shepherds delight, pink sky in the morning a shepherds warning. “”

I have been told by those who work at sea it is sailors not shepherds.

I looked over the railing into the sea as I walked. Because it was low tide the water was so clear I could see the rocks and the seaweed.

Out on the horizon there was a lone ship waiting its turn to enter Newcastle port. My mind was cast back to Anzac Day when I attended an Anzac Ceremony in the Cooks Hill Surf Life saving Club. As I sat and listened my eyes wandered out to sea and I saw a lone ship anchored waiting for its turn to enter port and I thought of the soldiers wearing full battle dress waiting on that fateful day to obey orders to land on the beaches of Gallipoli.

Suddenly I came to a realization. My eyes, my eyes, my eyes, IT IS MY EYES!!!!

I, we, do not have to think about crossing the street or not knowing where dangerous obstacles are so as to avoid them. WE DO NOT HAVE TO WORRY BECAUSE WE HAVE EYES THAT SEE!!!!!

To be truthful, up to the writing of this article I had not thought that much about being blind, even though I am empathic.

For whatever reason, whether blind from birth or an acquired injury there are those who without the services of a guide dog are limited in their ability to live a full, independent life as we all have the right to.

I walked around my house or tried to with my eyes shut and I tripped, I fell, I walked into walls and doors. Wow!!!!

Yet there are those who now are able to go out into the world and work and have a full life. HOW YOU ASK ME? Because in 1951 Guide dogs NSW/ACT was formed. Its motto is SIGHT LOST,FREEDOM FOUND” . In 1952 the first Guide dog was trained. Guide Dogs Association has gone from strength to strength celebrating 60 anniversary in 2017.

The people who are given a guide dog are brave, amazing people. They set out forth from their world of darkness into the everyday sighted world with full trust and because they have a guide dog to be their eyes. The guide dogs are more than just their eyes the guide dogs see and sense danger and carefully guide their owner away from danger. When someone receives a guide dog they develop the confidence to get out into the world.

New research carried out by Guide Dogs NSW/ACT on hundreds of guide dog handlers has revealed one in two guide dog handlers in NSW and the ACT have experienced their guide dog being attacked by another dog. More than half of those attacks happened within the past year and seems to be on the increase, 78 per cent of attacks were caused by an off-leash dog, and one third of the guide dogs attacked were injured.

Guide Dogs NSW/ACT chief executive officer Dale Cleaver said the number of attacks seemed to be on the rise, prompting the organisation to launch an awareness campaign.

"What we're asking everybody to do is to keep their pet dog on a leash and under control when they're out and about," he said.

We as dog lovers know just what a tragedy it is when one of our dogs becomes sick or injured. Imagine; well I can’t imagine what it must be like for someone whose guide dog is attacked and hurt. I can’t imagine the terror for the owner to be helpless and just stand there while their dog is being savaged.

And what of these owners of the dogs that are off the lead? What consequences do they receive for their dog injuring a guide dog, possibly causing it to have to retire. And what cost must they pay to contribute to the training of the injured dog?

What reparation must they give for technically taking away the guide dog owners independence taking away the guide dog owners eyes?

Perhaps, just as poor drivers of cars must attend a compulsory safe driving programme, they must attend a programme where there they must experience as part of the programme an experience of a simulation of being without sight.

However, in conclusion with the words of a wise man Always look at the world through soft eyes. And search for understanding.

We as dog lovers must support a campaign of awareness of those who are blind and who need the support of a working dog; that they are like us. They love their dogs and their lives are enriched as ours are by the unconditional love and devotion of their dogs but ,for them, their independence and confidence is lost when they lose their eyes; their faithful dogs.

So, put your dog on a lead when you see and a working dog in harness; don’t pet a working dog when in harness, EVER!!!!.


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