I came across this article the other day that was recently come across my normal reading repertoire and had to smile. This individual speaks of her Leader Dog and as much as I understand the trials and tribulations of a Service Dog, I couldn’t imagine the other challenges that came across the Blind that use a Leader Dog. You see, my husband is blind and even though I am not personally involved in Leader Dog training, I get asked all the time why my husband won’t use one. Personally, I tell them it’s his decision, but ultimately he has seen/heard others with them and then has seen the struggles of being completely reliant of a K9 companion and said it wasn’t for him. He is a stubborn man, but I do have one story I want to share of my own.
Sampson, my beautiful Bullmastiff that for some reason, saved my life twice while I was struggling with my health. I ended up with a blood infection that shut me down, and drove me to high fevers to the point where I could not warm up, no matter how many blankets I put over me and no matter how many hot baths I took. Having such a high fever, he also knew that I was unaware of my surroundings and the dangerous part of falling asleep in a bath tub that I could have drown in. He sat right at the head of my tub and every time I started to nod off, I got a bit fat tongue of Sampson juice across my face and a nuzzle to wake me up. And then when I got out of the tub, he jumped up on the bed (which was a forbidden sin) but then curled up around me all 150 lbs of him, and spooned me after having grabbed the blanket and covered me up with it. For that, I knew that he and I were inseparable and he became a huge part of our family.
When Pa lost his eyesight, it was amazing to watch him click and know exactly what had happened to Pa. Having not eaten yet, Pa, great grand ma, and Ma went to a Sweet Tomatoes for a salad and because Pa could not carry his tray, I took his tray and handed Sampson’s lead. Sampson was AMAZING as he looked up at Pa and took a step forward each time Pa did, and followed me to the table without the use of a leader harness and even a cane. Pa’s emotions were running high so instead of sitting near me, he sat with his giant head in Pa’s lap and refused to move as he knew Pa needed some reassurance after having his eyesight taken. Sampson was his safe zone and it was so amazing to watch as I, never taught him that.
So in reading the story “The Downside to a Guide Dog” I had to chuckle, as my new K9 in training does so many of the things that Viviene does to her Handler that Katana does with me. This also shows the connection between Handler and Dog and why I get so darn angry when others reach out to pet Katana even with a huge sign on her side that says, “PLEASE DO NOT PET!” I still get interrupted and people reach out to pet her….. I am so going to fix this if it’s the last thing I do!