Thursday, August 11, 2011

Great things about being blind. Great question. How do you know when your guide dog needs to retire?

Yesterday, someone asked me about how I knew gia (my last guide dog) was ready to retire last summer. If I couldn't see, how would I know these things. I talked about feeling her slow down, her hesitancy on stairs, how she seemed more nervous of loud noises, how she slowed down and seemed confused when things got crowded or complicated. They asked, "but how did you know without seeing it?"
This happened at a storytelling gig I did for seniors.
I thought a lot about it.
Good questions really.
How did I know?
Of course her pace slowed down in harness when we walked together.
Also, she didn't pull as much or as hard. She would stop and bump me with her head if things seemed difficult or confusing. She would startle a bit if a loud noise occurred just ahead of us or more often behind us. She would also sometimes pause for a moment when moving from shade to sun. The combination of the feeling of the movements in harness and knowing her as I did for all of the years we were together, I knew. In the house, she didn't go up and down stairs as much and did so more slowly. How did I know? By the sound of her walking paws, the jingle of her collar. It makes me think that when I am storytelling and doing autobiographical stories, I need to use those descriptive words to make sure others know how I perceive the world. A well chosen word here and there will bring the point across. Thanks for the great questions yesterday.

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