International Guide Dog Day – Happy Tails

Photo of author
Written By Graeme Innes

Guide dog sleeping on its bed with a stuffed toy.I often look very cute!

And if you have the food I like (or any food, tbh), I have the most sorrowful eyes with which to stare at you.

But, as a guide dog, I also do a really important job, and I have a couple of favours to ask of you which will help me out.

Why International Guide Dog Day?

Every year around the world, our humans celebrate International Guide Dog Day. It has two purposes:

          • To raise awareness about the benefits dog guides provide to people who are blind or vision-impaired; and
      • To raise funds for our training and other orientation and mobility services provided by guide dog organisations throughout the world to people who are blind or vision-impaired.

Our training is very expensive – it costs about $50,000 to train each one of us, and only about 25 per cent of us get through it successfully. So not only am I smarter than the average dog, Boo-Boo, I’m smarter than the average trainee guide dog. But of course, you  already knew that.

Now I’m fully trained, I spend my time walking around with my human, getting him through all those tricky shops, streets, airports etc. He thinks he does most of the work. My response: OK Boomer. He does make the broad strategic decisions about where we have to go, otherwise I would spend my time cleaning up all of those food scraps that humans so helpfully leave strewn around. But I do most of the tricky stuff to get him there. Still, it’s a great job and I enjoy it.

A Tale of Two (Guide) Dogs

I’m two dogs really – without my harness on, I hang out with other dogs and their humans, get beaten up by our family cat (cats; they have no respect) and sleep a lot. But when I put on my harness, I’m at work and need the fewest distractions possible.

Guide dog looking sleepy.

Now we get to the favours I want to ask of you.

  •  Don’t pat me when I’m working. I have a sign on my harness to remind you, but many of you just ignore it. And I do love a pat – which makes it a big distraction for me. So dude, don’t be rude.
  •  Please don’t talk to me when I’m working. Just in case you haven’t worked it out, I can’t talk! I bark when my human leaves me outside or forgets to feed me. You just can’t get good staff these days. I lick at every opportunity. But I don’t talk. So, talk to the human. (I’d say to the hand, but I haven’t got one).
  • Please don’t ask my human my name. He won’t tell you, and if he does it will probably be his name rather than mine. He’s so self-obsessed! And remember, I can’t talk, so I won’t tell you!
  • Please don’t assume I know which lift button to press, or when the lights have turned green. First, I can’t read. Second, I’m colour-blind. And third, he does little enough of the work already. I’m not doing any more of his jobs.
  • And finally, don’t offer me food in restaurants. Water, sure, I enjoy a drink with the best of them. But I’m on a strict diet to maintain my weight, so help me out, OK?

Have a great International Guide Dog Day and make me happy by following my requests. If you do, cute pictures will continue on this blog, and Graeme Innes might even write the occasional one himself. I wrote this on his iPhone while he was asleep.