Being a guide dog owner brings with it many advantages, (the companionship of a wonderful brindle Labrador/retriever and a highly effective mobility tool being 2 of the most obvious).
During my social and working life I am asked many questions regarding how guide dogs work, most of which are perfectly reasonable. I always answer such queries as its important that people understand the vital role played by guide dogs in enhancing the independence of visually impaired people. I am however sometimes flabbergasted by the daft questions put to me.
I have lost count of the number of occasions when a question along the following lines has been asked, “so does your dog go to work with you?”
I recently came across a variant on the above query. An acquaintance, being aware that I was traveling to Liverpool to visit my mum asked, “so does Trigger (my guide dog) go to Liverpool with you?”
I am known for my dry (some would say sarcastic) sense of humour. Consequently I am highly tempted to reply along the following lines, “no, he will stay in London for the 7 days I shall be in Liverpool. Don’t worry I shall leave him enough food and water to cover my absence. I am, however a little concerned that my home might be rather messy on my return …!”.
I do, however bite my sharp tongue and respond that the whole purpose of a guide dog is to act as a mobility tool. Consequently Trigger goes everywhere with me (the UK Equalities Act makes it an offence for a provider of goods or services to discriminate against a person for a reason related to their disability.
As a guide (or other assistance animal) is necessary to the independence of many disabled people, the Act makes it an offence for restaurants and other establishments to refuse to admit a disabled person when accompanied by their working assistance animal).
I shall continue to smile and patiently explain about the role of guide dogs when confronted by silly questions while, all the time furiously biting my sarcastic tongue …