Tag Archives: assistance dogs

Public Property

Being blind and a guide dog owner, the following post struck a chord with me (http://viscourse.blogspot.co.uk/2016/09/public-property.html). In it, Deborah, a visually impaired guide dog owner, describes how a lady interrupted her conversation with a friend in order to ask whether she could pet Deborah’s guide dog. When Deborah said “no” the interrupter left in a huff, which to me is remarkable given that she had rudely interposed in a conversation in order to gratify her desire to pet Deborah’s (working) guide dog.
I, like Deborah find that unthinking people regard visually impaired individuals as public property. The worst instance I can recall of this occurred some time ago. I was crossing a busy road when a gentleman began stroking my guide dog, Trigger in the midst of stationary vehicles! On other occasions people have asked me deeply personal questions regarding my relationship status. Such enquiries would not have been addressed to a non-disabled person, yet those posing them think it is acceptable to ask whether I have dated disabled or non-disabled women.
I recognise the importance of educating people and am usually happy to answer questions provided they are sensitively phrased and put in a respectful manner. I am also delighted for people to say hello to Trigger but only when they ask politely and by so doing they don’t put my safety and that of Trigger in danger.
Noone, whether disabled or non-disabled should be considered as public property.

Kevin

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A Review Of “More Than Best Friends”, An Anthology To Raise Money For Guide Dogs

Early this year a group of authors, including myself, came together to produce “More Than Best Friends”, an anthology in aid of the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association (GDBA). All funds go directly to GDBA with no monies being received by the authors.

I was delighted when Olivia Emily of Bibliomad kindly agreed to write an honest review of “More Than Best Friends” in exchange for a free copy of the book. For Olivia’s review please visit the following link, https://bibliomad.wordpress.com/2015/09/28/more-than-best-friends-book-review/#more-428.

The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association are a registered charity who receive no government funding. If you would like to support the work of the Association in providing guide dogs, thereby enhancing the independence of visually impaired guide dog owners, please do consider downloading the anthology and making a donation to GDBA. I would like to thank my fellow authors for their generosity in donating their work and time free.

 

(Please note. I have been visually impaired since approximately 18-months old as a consequence of a blood clot on the brain which caused me to lose the majority of my vision. I am now working with my fourth guide dog, a brindle lab/retriever called Trigger, of whom I am very fond despite his habit of helping himself to other people’s lunches, particularly my work colleagues)!

 

Guide Dogs Not Allowed IN

The following email (reproduced below) about the discrimination faced by guide dog owners is self explanatory. As a guide dog owner I am saddened and angered by the fact that 75 percent of guide dog owners report having been refused access to a taxi when accompanied by their guide dog. I am saddened but not surprised because the same thing has happened to me on several occasions (I.E. taxi drivers flouting the law by refusing to carry me when accompanied by my guide dog Trigger). If you live in the UK please do take the time to write to your Member of Parliament regarding this issue. The original email can be found by following this link http://emails-guidedogs.org.uk/LDK-3KHFD-E85B5CNX2A/cr.aspx. Please note, the links in the email reproduced below don’t work (for the working links please visit the original document linked to above).

 

Many thanks,

 

Kevin

 

Email From Guide Dogs For The Blind Association

 

Dear Kevin

 

“My biggest problem with refusals comes from taxi drivers. I used to have a very tough two hour commute to work. The taxi part of the journey was the shortest

bit travel wise, but it always ended up being the bit that held me up the most because I was having to spend time facing drivers who wouldn’t take me with

my dog. It made an already stressful situation really stressful and upsetting…it’s good that my contract was flexi hours otherwise I’m sure I would have

been sacked for being late all the time – it happened so often.” Guide dog owner, Northamptonshire

 

Earlier this year we carried out a survey of over one thousand assistance dog owners. The results were shocking.

75% of guide dog owners

who responded had been refused access to a business or service at some stage because they were accompanied by their dog, and nearly half had within the

last year.

Take action to help us stop this from happening.

 

This is why we’ve launched an important new campaign called ‘Access All Areas’ which aims to ensure guide dog and other assistance dog owners are able to

gain access to businesses and services with their dog, as is their legal right.

 

A guide dog owner and guide dog about to get into a taxi

 

Amongst guide dog owners the most frequently encountered place to be refused access was taxis and private hire vehicles. You can help us tackle this problem

 

by taking our new online action.

 

Thank you for supporting this vital new campaign.

 

Best wishes,

 

Rachael

Anthology to raise money for Guide Dogs goes live at last!

Dear all,

The moment you have all been waiting for. No, I haven’t won millions on the National Lottery, although that would be nice! I am, however, delighted to announce that the anthology to raise money for the Guide Dogs for the Blind association is now live! I have created a dedicated page for the book which can be found here: http://newauthoronline.com/anthology-to-raise-money-for-guide-dogs/

I would like to extend my heartfelt thanks to everyone who has contributed to the anthology, whether that be through stories, poems or other writings. I would like to thank Chris Graham for his generosity in producing the book cover at no charge. Without the tireless efforts of the editor, Dave Higgins, this anthology would not have come into being. Finally, a big thank you to everyone who has promoted and continues to promote the anthology.

Kind regards,

Kevin and Trigger

Crossing The Road With My Guide Dog Trigger

There is, some 5 minutes walk from my home a particularly busy side road. During the rush hour a stream of vehicles uses the road making it problematic for a sighted person (let alone a registered blind guide dog owner, such as myself to cross in safety). Guide dogs are taught to work in a straight line and to avoid obstructions. On reaching a down kerb the dog stops and waits for the owner’s instructions regarding when to cross. While guide dogs do have training on crossing roads it is (as one guide dog trainer explained it to me) rather like having a young child assist you to cross. The young child (we are talking about a 4-5-year-old here) will (if properly instructed by adults on road safety) have some conception of road safety, however one wouldn’t want to place one’s life in their hands when traversing busy traffick. Consequently guide dog owners should ask for help at busy roads only trusting to their dog’s abilities in the event that no help is available. Obviously the presence of zebra and pelican crossings mean that visually impaired people can cross in safety at such places, however the road I am talking about is neither of these. Having said all that, I am extremely lucky as my guide dog, Trigger is very cautious and has saved me on several occasions from walking out in front of oncoming vehicles which, along with his loveable personality makes us extremely close.

Many drivers, on seeing me and Trigger stop to let us cross. This is as it should be at zebra and pelican crossings. However in certain instances the helpfulness of drivers unintentionally puts Trigger and I at risk. For example, at the side road mentioned above, traffick comes from both left and right. I have often experienced drivers to the right of me stopping and beeping their horns or shouting “it’s safe to go mate”, only to have vehicles continuing to traverse the road from the left. What is extremely helpful in such situations is for a driver to stop his vehicle and if it is safe to do so leave it and assist me in crossing. This has happened several times but on many other occasions drivers have, I am sure scratched their heads in frustration as they wonder why that stupid blind guy with the brindle lab retriever isn’t responding to their helpful advice that it is safe to cross! The answer is, of course that said guy doesn’t particularly feel like decorating the wind screen of an oncoming vehicle as it comes in, at speed from the left! So if you encounter a guide dog owner while driving please don’t shout out of your vehicle that it safe to cross. I know you mean well and I do, genuinely appreciate your kindness, however you may, wholly unintentionally be putting me or other guide dog owners at risk. If it is safe to do so please do stop for a moment and assist me or the other guide dog owner across the road. You will be performing an invaluable service which will be greatly appreciated by me or which ever guide dog owner you assist.

Taxi!

“Can you get your dog to sit down please”, the minicab (private hire) taxi driver says. I am sitting in the back of the car my guide dog, Trigger seated quietly at my feet. I therefore assume that the driver wishes Trigger to lie down which, on my command he does.

“Did you tell the company you had a guard dog?” the cabbie asks.

“Yes I told them that I have a guide dog”, (me emphasising the word guide), “drivers have to take guide dogs under the law unless they have a medical exemption certificate stating that they are allergic to dogs”.

“I know. This is the only dog I take”. Why then I ponder inwardly are you asking me whether I told the company as you have taken me previously and, in any case the law obliges you to convey guide and other assistance dogs when accompanied by their owners? I don’t pursue the matter and the vehicle arrives at my destination.

“How much do the company charge for the dog?” the driver asks.

“£5” I answer. In fact the cost of the journey from my home to my destination is £5 irrespective of whether the person being conveyed is accompanied by a guide or other assistance dog and it is illegal to charge extra for carrying assistance animals. I am tired having arisen early so fail to explain this to the driver (he should already be aware of the legislation which came into effect in 2002 and can be found here, http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2002/37/enacted). I give him £5 plus a tip and he goes on his merry way.

Had the company informed my driver that there was a visually impaired person with a guide dog requiring a cab would he, I wonder have picked me up? As it was he was (apparently) unaware of the presence of Trigger and having arrived decided to take Trigger and I to our destination. The law is a blunt, though a very necessary instrument and so far as the rights of assistance dog owners are concerned the legislation has greatly reduced the number of refusals to convey owners accompanied by their assistance animals. It is, however always in the back of my mind when calling a taxi, “will the driver and/or the company make an excuse that there are no drivers available when, in fact there are or will they (despite the law) refuse to convey Trigger and I”.