What question do people ask you the most?
At the moment, after exchanging the usual pleasantries with friends and acquaintances – the one question inevitably comes up:
“Any news on the new dog yet Nic?”
I always vary the answer depending on how I’m feeling.
It might sound silly, but if I’m not coping on the day because I can’t get around as freely as I could with a working dog I’ll just say “No.” and either change the subject or make some remark about “Hopefully it’ll be soon,” or: “It’s fine, I’m just happy to have more time having fuss with Chelly!”
Another few questions follow, along the lines of: The question is normally along the lines of:
“Why is it taking so long?” or “What actually happens when you get a new dog!”
So, here’s a quick guide to the matching process of guide dogs.
There are three priority lists.
Priority one is people who don’t have a working guide dog.
List two is people who have a working guide dog which is coming up for retirement
Priority list three is people who are waiting for their first guide dog.
I am currently on list one, but already a very good friend of mine has been matched with her new dog, despite being on priority list two.
So, the actual placement of people on lists has no bearing on who gets a dog.
We, as guide dog owners have to go through several forms to say which kind of dog we would like.
It’s kind of like a dating profile, but with a much cuter, less dramatic outcome!
We have to do a “short handle walk” which is absolutely hilarious.
The GDMI “guide dog mobility instructor (will hold the end of a harness handle and pretend to be a dog.
Depending on the character of the person taking the lead they’ll give you the proper experience of walking a guide dog.
My last GDMI actually pretended to scavenge food and sniff a lamp-post, in front of a heap of school children!
They do this to see how fast you walk, determine how good you are at correcting a dog with your voice and how confidently you walk.
We also have to fill out a form saying what colour, breed or type of dog we’d like. I’m not being at all fussy with breed or colour – although secretly I hope I’ll get another female dog.
Height, Weight and lifestyle also play a part.
Then, when the different dogs come into the various training centres – each one spends a period of time with a trainer.
They learn which dogs are fast, slow, happy to go on trains, buses ETC
It’s far more complicated than that – but difficult to explain as each guide dog owner is different.
I’m really enjoying having Chelsea with me. She’s kept me smiling and giggling during the waiting process.
I’m looking forward to the day I can answer the inevitable questions with a different response.
Until then, the wait goes on!