Yesterday I had someone Facebook me asking me to explain more about the communication Robin and I have. When we’re at home Robin is pretty much a normal dog. She likes to play since I moved to my new apartment she really likes to lay in front of the patio and watch things outside. If I have the blinds closed sometimes I’ll hear her nose separate them and look out. She has two favorite toys a football and some sort of bouncy ball that I have. I joke a lot that were kind of like an old married couple. I will be watching a game in the living room and she will go lay in my room. If I sneeze or something she usually will come out and put her head on my leg. I do allow her to sleep with me sometimes, but often it’s in the middle of the night I’ll wake up and she’ll be against my back or my legs.
I have a Fleksy leash that I will take her out on and play football in the yard. It allows her to run about 30 feet. When I sit outside and this summer I will bring her out with me and she’ll just watch cars pass or dogs she just kind of enjoys it. Were hardly ever separated, but when we are I hear she likes to keep my schedule. I left her for four days of years ago with a friend and she said Robbinwood wake her up at seven wanting food and then want to go outside and then she would lay back down and sleep. I’ll never forget when she brought her back to my place Robin nearly got stuck in the window because she almost jumped out the passenger side to greet me. Truthfully I missed her as much because I had to use my cane in an unfamiliar area which I hate. My cane skills have diminished since having a dog a lot.
Our communication is pretty unique. I’m sure handlers of guide dogs have about the same stories with their dogs. When Robin’s working for example when you get near a counter she will turn her body sideways in front of me so I will not run into the counter. This is nice because it allows me to know I’m really close to being helped. One thing you lose when you give up a cane is knowing how far an object is away from you. One example of this is when in line with a cane you can take your cane and touch someone’s shoe and feel when they move. I’m not saying you’re invading in their personal space you just sort of take the tip of your cane and barely touch the back of their shoe. Anyway with the dog will happen a lot of times is either they will try and cut you in line which can be an advantage or they really don’t understand what is going on when the line moves. I’ve kind of figured it out over the years by communicating with the person in front of me, but it still can be a little awkward.
The other thing Robin will not do is walk off the edge of a subway platform. She won’t even get close to it. She is trained that way. I have accidentally tested this theory because sometimes you don’t exactly know where the edges, but she stops a good 2 feet from it. Robin is however still a dog and dogs have ups and downs about them. One thing I definitely know is when Robin has to use the bathroom. She will start walking kind of funny and put her nose down to the ground. If she starts to do this that means you have about two minutes before poop is going to come. I was in the mall about a month ago with my friend Brad. She started to do this and we were in the middle. I had Brad scout out the nearest exit and I carried her. Brad said people were really staring at us, but I feel like this is still less embarrassing than her pooping in the mall. I got her outside and sure enough she pooped.
This is completely off subject well sort of but I was talking to a friend of mine recently and I learned that with toilet paper you can either wad or fold. I really don’t understand why you would fold because in about one wipe you’re going to destroy your art. He told me that when he folds it has to be a perfect fold. I advised him that I’m concerned he might kill someone it seems a little too detail oriented for me. I am definitely not a folder it just seems like a waste of time to me but whatever floats your boat I guess. I really need a second job after rereading that.
Back to Robin sorry my add kicked in again. A lot of organizations such as PETA are against guide dogs. They feel guide dogs are slaves and that no animal should be made to work against its will. There was an article posted a few years ago I believe in the Los Angeles times or on someone’s blog anyway it gain traction. Basically the woman said blind people should not have service animals because they cannot tell if the dog had blood in its urine or was sick. She also went on to say that blind people should just have a person take care of them rather than an animal. About that same time the story went out Robin was having a weird issue where she would just sit on the snow like she may have been hot or burning up. I took her to the vet, because I notice she was sick. Again just because I’m blind doesn’t mean I’m stupid. The vet said she had a vaginal infection. Now I am a guy so this is pretty new to me obviously I’ve never had a vagina infection. For the next week I had to give her an antibiotic and put a glove on and rub ointment on it and in her vagina. Now when I signed up for a guy dog I never thought I would be doing such a thing. I knew about the poop, but this was a foreign idea for me. They really do become your kid I knew something was wrong and I took care of it.
I bring that story not to embarrass Robin or myself, but to show were just like anyone else. At the time Robin was in a lot of discomfort so like a parent you want them to feel better. It insulted me that some woman who probably never met a blind person or spent a day with a service animal is running her mouth about how we should have a human walk us around. What really amazes me is Robin is always with me. I think about people that work eight hours and leave their dogs in a cage or in a room by themselves and that’s okay? Definitely over the years having a dog is a trade-off to a cane. I don’t think one is necessarily better than the other, but I do feel more comfortable with Robin. I think I spoke on this earlier but I will touch on it one more time I will never forget my first job interview after getting Robin. For the first time I could tell her to follow someone and not have to hang onto someone’s elbow. The leader of the group who is showing us the job site commented to me afterwards saying I didn’t even realize you were blind or I forgot about it. I remember feeling and thinking to myself after that interview this will probably be the closest I ever get to being able to experience having site.