Yesterday, Tulia and I were waiting to be picked up by a friend so that I could go and teach my storytelling workshop. We were standing on our walkway. Well, tulia was sitting. I was standing. She was in her harness. A man and a woman and a dog walked by on the sidewalk. They were maybe five feet away I would say. tulia wagged a little and the other dog seemed to be prancing and huffing but neither dog lunged for each other or did anything more than indicate they noticed each other. The woman started yelling at the man.
"That's a blind dog."
Good for the man because he said,
"That dog isn't blind."
Whenever anyone asks if I have a blind dog, I always say, "I hope not."
Anyway, she says.
"keep your dog away from that dog. It is trained to do one job and one job only."
She said it like she was the lifetime expert on guide dogs.
I started to get annoyed but I wasn't about to chase after them to set them straight.
Then I thought, "Oh how wonderful. She gave me something to blog about. How great is that?"
And then I thought.
One job and one job only?
I don't think so.
My guides have had so many jobs over the years.
I'll list a few here.
The average person also thinks they work all of the time.
They think it is a tough life.
Tulia is currently snoozing on her huge bean bag with about ten toys surrounding her.
If I move in her direction, the tail immediately swishes and she flips over for a belly rub.
Not a bad job as I slave away at my computer is it?
Anyway, here are some of the jobs my guides have had over the past 19 years plus.
guide dog. Yes this is number one. Helping me to navigate my environment safely. Crossing streedts, negotiating obstacles, construction, going through buildings, up and down stairs, on planes, trains, canoes, ferries, buses, cars, taxis. In restaurants, schools, nursing homes, palliative care units, on stage, at festivals. Anywhere I go, they go and assist.
Not a bad job considering they are also admired wherever they go.
Other jobs have included:
Unofficial therapy dog in all of the nursing homes, schools, group homes, palliative care units, I've worked at over the years.
My guides have known how to be with all kinds of people and just the right things to do.
When to lean a head on a knee. When to keep distance. when to wag and be silly. When to be calm and serious.
Physio therapy assistent. When I wrecked my knee, Miss Gia took this on without any further training. Stopping for uneven patches of sidewalk. Finding me ramps instead of stairs. Helping me to balance at physio and when I got up and down. Never complaining when we couldn't walk far or fast.
As I practice and learn stories for my career, Gia and now Tulia have been wonderful, uncomplaining listeners as I ramble on.
Ice breaker. Nothing like having a dog with you to have people come up to meet you.
Fund raiser. A couple of summers ago, at a storytelling conference, we were raising money for a worthy project called storysave.
And I offered pats of Gia out of harness if I was given donations for the project.
In an hour, she raised about $50.
Everyone was missing their dogs at home.
Stress relief coaches.
Nothing like having a dog beside you at the dentists or the doctors or when you're stressed at work.
Just giving them a pat or having them come over and lean on you, helps so much.
Secret keeper. A few months ago, I got a huge grant to develop a storytelling one woman show.
Thank you Canada council for the arts.
And, I couldn't tell anyone until I got the official letter.
I told Tulia and she kept it to herself nicely.
Clown. Nothing like a dog with a toy in mouth, rolling all over the floor snorting, greeting everyone with a wag and smile, to keep everyone happy.
Official greeter. Walmart should have dogs don't you think? Almost everyone loves a canine welcoming committee.
When I go to yoga classes, Gia, and now Tulia lies on her own yoga mat beside me. She does the occasional downward dog movement, leans her little face on me from time to time, keeps an eye on me, and is calmness itself.
Lifeguard. I don't know if tulia swims yet but the others have loved it and have even taken it upon themselves to guide me in the open water which can be quite hazzardous for me.
Person trainer. Can't we go out for a walk? We must do that! Let's do that! Oh you can't, well you can throw a toy for me or play a vigourous game of tug can't you?
So there you go lady whoever you are.
You are wrong about the blind dog and you are also equally wrong about my dogs having just one job.
They seem to have high job satisfaction and always get great performance appraisals too.