Is a guide dog still right for you?

Warning, this will be a long post.

Recently a person wrote a blog entry stating why having a guide dog is a terrible idea
and caused quite a stir.

Having a guide dog is not for everyone, but unless the person is a totally idiot to animals I will never tell them that having a dog is a terrible idea. Just for the record there is only *one* person that I would tell that they just aren’t right for a dog and that’s only cause they have some serious growing up to do and I’ve seen how they treated previous dogs, but anyways.

just like choosing a school to get your dog from, the choice of getting one is an individual thing. you should never ever base it on what others say, think or feel. It’s not up to them! Just because a dog works for your best friend and everyone tells you that you should get one, *does not* mean it is what’s right for you! If your friend had a dog before, but it didn’t work out, why? Was it because of their lifestyle, family and friends getting in the way, the school gave them a bad match/ if so, that doesn’t mean that *you* would have the same experience. Choosing to get a dog should be something you research, ask all sorts of questions, figure out if you can afford it, can you handle the responsibility of caring for a dog? Are you strong enough to deal with the public, tis includes your family and friends when it comes to standing up for you and your dog in what’s best?

In the blog entry I directed you to at the top of this post i found their 5 reasons rather interesting about why having a dog is a terrible idea. Here are my thoughts.

1. expensive
Yes, caring for a guide dog can be expensive. I recently had to buy Luna some more heart guard and man that stuff is definitely not cheap! But I know that either every 3 or 6 months depending on how many I choose to buy at the time I know that’s something I know I have to budget for. The only time that I want to cry is when something happens that I didn’t plan for like those unplanned vet visits.
This person also wrote that you must buy better than average dog food and that’s not true. You don’t have to feed your dog what’s outside your range of what you feel like spending. All schools feed either Purina *yuck* Iams, Natural Balance, Science Diet and so on. I choose not to go this route and buy Fromms for Luna. The most expensive bag for her is over 100, but that’s my choice and not something you have to do. You can stick with the food the school already feeds the dog or shop around and see what fits your budget and still keeps your dog healthy.

2. inconvenient
The things mentioned under this section I see as sacrifices. Look at what the dog does for you? They help you travel safely, enhance your mobility or hell for some people their mobility is bette with a dog than it was with a cane.
Yes, it is definitely a pain when sick and you are probably the only one to care for your dog and you wish you could just curl up in a ball and sleep until the world is right again, but unless you’re sick 365 days a year then what’s a little sacrifice?
Inconvenient in finding a trash can. Simple, train your dog to find one and have a party when they do, especially if they happen to poop near one. that’s what I did with Luna. Well, and if that doesn’t work, well there’s probably a washroom around somewhere, right?
The other big thing that new or even some old guide dog handlers are concerned about is time. For me it was never an issue since hell I don’t sleep much anyways so Luna’s schedule is pretty much the same as what it was during guide dog training time at Leader. Except on the weekends. Then I adjust the schedule a few hours. The latest she’ll let me slide is 8AM. after that I definitely have the howling going on. But I know a guide dog user that doesn’t have her dog on a schedule at all. for me that would be more nerve racking because you never know exactly when your dog has to go, but it works for that team. i know another person that for whatever reason their dog can’t hold water and they have to go out like every hour or so. It’s all about finding out what works for you and your dog in the end and what you are willing or not willing to sacrifice.

3. time consuming
Hmm, this one I just don’t see as a reason for not getting a dog. Hell if I don’t want to go out, we don’t. simple as that. I take my dog out to do her thing and we come back in and do whatever in the house. As much as she loves to work, play time is just as important in having a guide dog. They need the down time and love and attention just as much as they need the work. Here is when it’s very important you let the school know what your lifestyle is like. If you’re a person that just doesn’t like to get out much, then let them know. There’s dogs out there that are trained to just be easy going and walk with you from the corner store and back home. Then there’s ones like mine that has to go go go like I do! Time, effort and energy is top of the list for things you should consider when thing of getting a dog.

4. unwelcome attention
Another one where I don’t thing the wording fits, but that’s just me. It’s no more unwelcome attention than having people stare at you cause you’re going sighted guide or cruising down the street with your cane and people run over and grab your arm insisting they must help you cross the street that you really didn’t want to cross in the first place. The sighted public is a problem no matter if you have a dog or not!
Dog hair. Well, you’ll have that anyways if you have family and friends that have dogs, so what’s the difference? Sadly there’s nothing you can do about this problem if you choose to get a dog. Grooming your dog daily will keep down on the hair, but some will still magically show up on your clothes. I think lab hair is the worse, lol. My suggestion for this is invest in great grooming tools like the zoom groom or do what I did with my last dog and drag out the vacuum, hahahah.
Time for that sense of humour because your dog will get noticed way more than you will. He or she will be the star of the show and 9 times out of 10 will be spoken to before you. If you’re the serious type then all you do is say hello to the person like they spoke to you and keep on going about your day.

5. dirty work
Ha, now this section was my favourite. It most certainly is dirty work. Nothing like cleaning up after your dog. For those of you that have kids like I do it may not be a big deal. We had to change diapers, right? No different. Just grab a bag, hope it doesn’t have a hole in it *gags* and there you go! Now for those hard to clean up times one guide dog user said they have a water bottle with them and they just dump the water over it and washes it away best they can. Hmm, not a bad idea. Luckily Luna hasn’t had this problem in a while, but definitely something I’ll keep in mind.

These reasons aren’t so bad after all right? It’s all in how a person voices them and their reason behind saying why a guide dog is terrible. Just something you need to keep in mind when making that decision. Do you want a dog? Do you want to go through all this again if you’ve had a dog before? Hmm, maybe consider a different school?

Luna is my best friend and having a dog is part of me. A choice I have never regretted since dog number 1!

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