Ten Top Dog Tails

| 2 min read
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World Accessibility Day

It was a hot sticky day in Sydney as I walked along the leafy suburban Roseville Street with my first guide dog Jordie.  I was wearing shorts and a t-shirt, so put my phone and keys in the little backpack she wears — it’s usually filled with plastic bags for when I go on poop patrol.

As I walked past an outdoor cafe my phone rang.

“Hey Jordie,” I said “your phone’s ringing,” as I stopped to unzip the backpack and take the call.

I laughed out loud when I heard one of the latte sippers say to another —

“Oh look, that guide dog has its own mobile phone.”

Guide dogs often draw attention to the user.  This can sometimes be positive — I understand they are an excellent “chick magnet” — but sometimes the attention is not preferred.  And sometimes the questions asked range from funny to bizarre.

Here are some I have experienced.  I am sure there are many others.

1.  As I arrive (usually from a female)

“Awww, isn’t he cute!?

My response,

“Thanks, and the dog’s not bad looking either.”

2.  As I get off the train, from an amazed schoolboy:

“Wow, how does the dog know which station to get off?”

My reply

“She listens to the announcements, just like I do.”

3.  Question to me

“Is this the first time you have been here?  How did the dog know the way?”

My reply:

“I let her borrow my GPS.”

4.  I walk into the supermarket, and ask for some assistance to locate the items I need.

Response

“But can’t the dog find them for you?”

5.  As I get into a taxi:

“Does your dog bite??

My response:

“Only when she’s hungry.  That reminds me, I haven’t fed her today.”

6. As I walk into a lift on the 32nd floor I ask the man who joins me if he could press the button for ground, please.

After my third repetition of the question, he replies –

“Oh, are you talking to me? I thought you were asking the guide dog.”

7. In a restaurant

“Shall I give the menu to your dog so that she can read it to you?”

I had no words.

8. As I try to walk into a crowded pub, from the security guard –

“You can’t bring your guide dog in here. It is a security risk.”

“In what way,” I ask.

“I don’t know, but I’m sure it is,” He replies.

His manager didn’t share his view.

9. From a restaurant patron

“I can’t finish my steak. Can I give it to your dog?”

I firmly reply no, explaining that she is not allowed to eat on the job.

“Ok,” he says, “I’ll put it in a doggy bag.” And laughs loudly.

It’s good to see people entertaining themselves.

10. I was once refused entry to a restaurant because of my guide dog.

When I explained to the proprietor that it was against the law to refuse us entry, he put the matter to a vote amongst his patrons, going from table-to-table counting responses. She won with an overwhelming majority.

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About

Graeme is a company director, lawyer, author and public speaker. He is the former Australian Human Rights Commissioner and has been a Human Rights Practitioner for 30 years. He has a wealth of knowledge, passion and expertise and is equally keen on cricket and Australian white wine.

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