I’ve got a few questions from new reader Ben:
Have you ever had trouble taking your guide dog somewhere that doesn’t allow “pets”? I know they are supposed to let you, but does this mean they always do?
Happens pretty regularly, actually. I walk into a business, and the first thing I hear is “no dogs!”. I explain that she’s a guide dog, and sometimes they back down. Sometimes they don’t, and there’s a confrontation. I have a lot of trouble in taxis, too, and the police have been inovlved a couple of times. It took me about a week once I got home to get a serious access challenge somewhere. It can get pretty exhausting.
You say your dog is a good fit for you — did you pick her out or were you simply assigned one at the start of training and it happened to work out well?
I did not pick her. The trainers match people with their dogs. It’s a little bit art, a little bit science, and a little bit magic, I think. They have a lot of information on each student, including the kinds of places where they usually go, whether they use public transit, if they’re around kids or other animals a lot, are they in urban or rural areas, do they travel often? They know our gaits, our general walking speeds, and any mobility issues we might have. GDF is small, so they generally don’t call you up for a class unless they have a specific dog in mind. The larger schools will have 30 people on a class and 30 dogs, and they’ll all match up somehow, and there can be switching if necessary. They’ll fit someone into whichever class has room next. When I got to GDF, they interviewed me again to make sure they still wanted to match me with the same dog, but I think they were pretty sure in my case.