In my Japanese class this quarter, we have a welcome addition among the students. His name is Lanny and he’s a four year old yellow lab who has a full time job working as a guide dog. He’s still very much in the puppy stage and is very sweet. Sometimes, his owner lets him off work during class when she won’t be moving around, and he accosts my instructor, particularly if she’s wearing a skirt. When he’s on duty and his owner is sitting still, he rolls over onto his back and takes a nap. He’s a great dog above and beyond the job he has to do every day. He works hard, and those naps in class are well-earned rewards.
Today was a bit different for Lanny and his owner. Today, we had some students from Osaka come over and watch a presentation at the school, and of course, the Japanese classes had to go because these students don’t speak English. Lanny and his owner were seated in the front row as the presentation started and at one point during the presentation, all of the Japanese students got up and headed toward the stage surrounding Lanny and his owner. The girls all thought he was cute and stopped to pet him, even though he was working hard to herd them away from his owner so that she wouldn’t get hurt. The first question that came to my mind was, “Don’t these girls know you’re not supposed to touch a guide dog?” Then I realized that the answer was “No.” But I wondered why.
It got so bad, that I wanted to get up and say something to them about it, but his owner took the opportunity and spoke for herself to the event’s organizer. She got on stage and did a short presentation with Lanny about how he works, and what the rules are for interacting with guide dogs. After that, the students left her and Lanny alone, and smiled at him from afar. I was so glad that they respected her and the job that Lanny has to do.
After that, I started thinking about guide dogs and how hard they work, and how they really are the link between their owner and the sighted world. They rely on their dog for so many things, and I am so amazed and awed at these animals and the people that train them. The dedication that it takes is, in itself, admirable, but what is even more admirable are the results that come from that dedication. Lanny and his owner are inseparable and they make a fantastic team.
I assume that everyone that reads my blog knows the rules about guide dogs, but you never know… so here it is, really simple. If you see a guide dog, you leave them alone. They are very busy and can’t be distracted from their job. Even if it seems like it might be okay to stop and pet them when their owner is sitting, the dog is still working to make sure the owner won’t get injured when she gets up. That’s what they do.
If this article finds even one person, who didn’t know the rules about guide dogs and helps them to understand the dangers that can befall a guide dog and his owner, then it has served its purpose.
Thanks for reading.