Guide Dog School 5: The First Rule to Working with a Guide Dog Is...
By Brian Fischler
The first rule of working with a guide dog is, you never pet a working guide dog. The second rule to working with a guide dog is, you never pet a working guide dog! Nash had his first visitor today, my Uncle Donny. Nash was really well behaved, as he didn’t jump up on him or anything like that.
A common misconception about guide dogs is that you can never pet them. Actually, you can never pet a working guide dog as the affection can be distracting to them. How do you know if a guide dog is working? It’s simple — his harness is on. Even if he is just sitting quietly next to his handler, if that harness is on, then he is working.
Hey, how often do you sit around quietly? So yes, a dog sitting quietly with his harness on is at work, even if it might not look like work to you, but once that harness comes off, guide dogs are just like any other dog wanting your love and affection. Still, don’t just walk up and start petting a blind guy’s dog. Always ask permission first.
Having my Uncle Donny visit was a very nice treat, as I got to leave Nash at Guiding Eyes for the Blind, and go out into the outside world for a nice lunch with my Uncle. It was nice to get to relax, and I don’t even think Nash noticed that I was gone — although I did hear that Nash had a bunch of the other dogs over for a keg party. I will have to look into that.
Nash is sleeping on my feet and snoring as I write this, it’s actually pretty funny. He is a very playful funny dog which I guess is a good thing for a comedian.
I found out that Nash is not a mute today outside of the snoring. During our evening lecture where we go over all sorts of situations we may encounter with our guide dogs, a puppy that was being trained upstairs decided to take a casual stroll down into our meeting. Everyone’s dogs jumped up and started barking.
It must have thrown a scare into that cute little guy, or our dogs were jealous about the little pup getting to roam around freely. The great thing about Nash is he didn’t start all of the barking, he just joined in the fun, and more importantly he didn’t try to run away, he just sat there. Nash’s bark was not a loud scary bark, but it was a good bark!
We had more independence on our working walks today, as we worked with a classmate and our dogs, and our instructors hung back a little bit. One guide dog team would walk in front of the other, and when we got to a corner we would flip flop the lead. We having been walking the same route the last few days to get accustomed to walking with our dogs. Both of our walks went really good today. The instructors tell me that it will actually take me six months to a year for me to fully trust Nash leading me, and I could definitely see it taking awhile as I am still very hesitant to trust him.
We had our first grooming session today, as with labs it is best to groom them every day. Grooming your dog takes less than five minutes as you run a comb and then a brush through their coat. Of course Nash doesn’t stand still for his grooming, so it’s like play time. Like I said, I got a really playful funny guy here in Nash, I just hope he doesn’t steal the spotlight once we get back into the real world and on stage at the comedy clubs!