While out for a walk with my guide dog, Trigger earlier today a lady began to stroke him while he was guiding me past a car which was, rather inconveniently parked on the pavement. I smiled and said,
“I don’t mind you stroking my dog, but please don’t do so while he is working as it could put both me and my dog in danger”.
The lady apologised and I continued on my way.
Unfortunately the above incident is far from being an isolated occurance. I have experienced people attempting to pet Trigger while in the midst of crossing a busy London road, which could have had disastrous consequences for both him and I.
As I said to the lady this morning, I have no objection to people stroking my guide dog. However the bottom line is to use common sense. By distracting a working guide dog the person responsible runs the risk of causing the animal to lose concentration. This could result in the owner becoming intimately acquainted with a lamp post or the bumper of a large lorry, not something which anyone wants to have on their conscience.
There is a good short piece on GDBA’s website on tips for approaching a guide dog owner. The golden rule, as set out in that piece is to always ask and not assume that speaking to or petting the dog is OK. As a guide dog owner I will, in most instances readily agree to a request to fuss Trigger. He works hard and deserves to be stroked, cuddled and generally loved. However, when working attention given to a guide dog can be highly dangerous so, please ask before approaching any assistance dogs.
For the article on GDBA’s website please visit, (https://www.guidedogs.org.uk/microsites/sponsor-a-puppy/blogs/2015/april/ever-wondered-how-to-approach-a-guide-dog-and-their-owner#.VWHdu0YrggQ).