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Articles > Guide dog's need for a harness

5 Apr 2008

The other day a friend was telling me how he saw this dog who was assisting a blind lady. The guide dog got distracted and those around him wanted to play with him, but the owner pulled his leash abruptly. He thought that was rude and abusive. I explained to him that dogs who assist the blind should not be distracted. The guide dogs that assist the blind are trained with a dog harness and leash. Several people are involved in the training of the blind dog guides. Their training is vigorous and detailed. The dog must be aware of his destination and how to get there without any incident for his owner.

Blind people have to have total faith in their dogs. They do love their dogs, and exercise them and feed them. But they are not play dogs. From the time they are young they are chosen for this great job based on the character of the dog. The blind person goes where the dog leads. He makes sure that she does not bump into anything while they are walking outdoors. It is imperative that the dog is not distracted while crossing the road with his owner. Cars should give them the right of way and not honk or yell at them. If the dog gets distracted the owner will get confused and there may be an accident.

The way the owner holds on to the dog leash is important. The owner gently pulls on the leash that tugs on the harness and holds him back. I explained to my friend that she was not being mean to the dog but rather corrective. He still thinks it was mean. Because there are people out there who think they can touch and play with a blind dog guide, we must educate the public that this is very serious and could jeopardize the life of the blind owner.

As those of us blessed with sight come across a blind person with a guide dog we must respect their delicate relationship. If you want to help the blind person, you may gently lead her on the other side of the dog. The blind dog guide must always be vigilant of his surroundings. The only way this could happen is if the dog is in his harness and the blind owner has a good grip on the leash.

Evangeline Samuel PhD. is a retired nurse who enjoys her daughter's dog, Kate's company, and loves dressing her up in designer clothes, dog leads and harnesses and have her sleep on designer dog beds.

Evangeline Samuel PhD
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