As I have entered more and more into the Blind/Visually impaired world as my kids have gotten older I run into paradigms that sighted people have about blind people. Some of them are, very frankly, amusing, some bewildering, and some insulting.
Today, I'm going to address one that I myself have even to this day, the one that sighted people have about all blind people having or needing guide dogs.
As shocking as it is, yes, indeed, there are blind people who don't want to have guide dogs. They feel they are okay on their own, they have confidence in their own abilities, they don't want the extra responsibility of feeding and caring for a dog, they don't want to pick up dog poop. Whatever their reason, there are far more people who don't have guide dogs than who do. They go to school, hold down jobs, date, have full lives, all without a guide dog and they don't feel the lack. Another reason is that their cane work, Orientation and Mobility, skills may not be good enough. Yes, despite what you may think, guide dog users have to have BETTER than normal O&M skills.
Why is Calli getting a guide dog and why did I want her to?
Calli made the decision herself after walking with a dog a little bit at camp last year, and after reading several books on guide dogs and therapy dogs. When she came home from China 3 years ago, she really wanted almost nothing to do with the dogs. Over time, she has come to appreciate them, and learn how to care for them and love them. She's been working towards being able to care for her own dog all be herself for about 2 years now. She feeds, waters, and grooms our dogs. She walks them and pets them, and really enjoys their company now. She understands that all dogs really want to have a job, a role in the family so to speak, and really is looking forward to having a working dog who will help her explore her world a bit more.
Why did I want Calli to have a guide dog when we already have 2 dogs (okay, 1 and 1/4 dogs because Maisy is so small) at home?
Several reasons. The first is that we live near a high school and near several busy streets. That combination means I really want her to have an extra pair of eyes as she crosses. Another reason is speed, Calli is a VERY fast walker, her cane sticks out more than 4' in front of her and she moves so quickly that people trip over her cane. If she has a guide dog, the dog will be right next to her and she will be able to move at her own speed with fear of taking people out in the hallways. A third reason is the companionship that a dog brings, with our dogs at home right now, neither one has chosen Calli for Their Person, the one that they follow around and show the greatest affection for. There aren't too many kids Calli's age around, and a dog will be a great friend. One of my final reasons is that Calli is a beautiful girl, and as a parent with a child in this age of danger, the fact that she will have a large dog attached to her will hopefully cause ill doers to think twice. That, and the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu lessons she takes. ;)