Sunday, February 13, 2011
Great things about being blind. Having dogs locate chairs.
The other day, tulia found me a seat in a food court. Finding a seat does not sound like a huge feat really. When you think of all of the things guide dogs do. Guiding you around obstacles, working through traffic, negotiating crowds, all weather conditions, finding a seat sounds quite simple. But, it got me thinking about how each of my dogs has worked so differently. And, as in people, their personalities shone through in their work. I do not remember so much about my second guide Margaret's work as I had her the shortest time. but, it was fascinating to see how Tulia's mind and her personality worked the other day. I walked through the food court and then picked up a sandwich and drink from a place we've been to a few times. The last time we were there, we sat at a table closest to the food counter. This time, with food in hand, I directed Tulia to, "Find a chair." She took me confidently right up to that table wagging her whole body. I put my hand out to encounter the arm of a gentlman sitting at that table. Tulia, sat down, tilted her head back (I imagine looking up at him with her incredibly cute face) and wagged her whole self as she sat there. I said, "Okay tulia. Let's find a chair with no one sitting in it." Tulia continued to sit and wag. The man said, "You're dog is awfully cute." I thanked him. He offered to move so we could sit there. He said, "I think your dog is really wanting you to sit here." I said that it was okay and we would find another empty chair. Tulia got up, shook herself. I said, "Forward find the chair." And she did take me to an empty one and was quite proud of herself. But it made me think. My first guide black lab Gwenny and my golden Gia, also would find the chairs they thought I should sit in. The seat on the bus we always used. A seat in class we tended to sit in. Both of them would stand there in front of the seat and give a look. "You should move. This is Kim's seat and we sit here." Not a mean look but a steady one. Gia was so dignified and calm she would just look and stand there. If I insisted, she would find another seat but not before letting people know that the seat they were in really was hers. Tulia is such a happy, charming, cute little dog, she tends to use her happy cuteness as she seemed to be doing the other day. "Please please please that's the seat we want. I know it is I know it is. Don't you think you might want to move out of the way. Please please please. Aren't I cute? Aren't I the cutest dog ever? And so smart?" I think either style can work. It always fascinates me as I get to know each of my new guides and start to figure out how they think and how they work through situations. Tulia sure can turn on the charm. She's the kind of dog everyone wants to be around. Her self possession also impresses me. She knows what she wants and is confident as she wags towards it. Finding chairs was never so interesting with a cane.