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Friday, 11 February 2011

I’m blind, but there’s no need to talk to my dog

I'm worn out with people constantly asking how I became blind. I'm 47 and blind since birth, and you would think by now I would be used to this question.
If anything, I'm getting more impatient with the same old questions. "Have you been blind all your life?” Answer: "Not yet".
"Your hearing must be so much better than mine?" Answer: "Pardon?" "That's a lovely  Shepherd you have there." Answer: " Shepherd? My dog is a  Labrador."
Not original answers, but they always make me and Renton, my Shepherd, chuckle.
It always happens when I'm trapped and unable to escape. Like, when I'm on a bus, train or taxi. People are naturally interested and I understand this, but they can't resist going that little bit too far.
"Couldn't you get an operation to get your sight back?" Answer: "No! I like walking into walls."
"My auntie was blind. She had to stay in bed. You're so brave going out and about." Staying in bed. Umm, now there's an idea I never considered.
"How do you find your mouth when you eat?" Answer: "In the same way you find your bum when you wipe it."
"If I was blind I would kill myself." Answer: "Why wait?"

These questions and many more are the reasons I've come up with a plan. For years, various organisations have been providing Blind Awareness Workshops. In fact, I've delivered a few. These workshops show the public how they should behave if they meet a blind person. Topics such as, don't go up and shout at blind people, they are not deaf , ASK, if they want to cross the road? DON'T drag them across the road by the ears. When you are giving directions, DON'T waggle your finger in some vague direction and say: "It's just over there next to the post office. SEE, you can't miss it."  "Well do you Wanna bet?

My training session will teach blind people how to cope when faced with this kind of attitude. When people come up and say: "You are a lovely boy" - when talking to the dog. Say, "Thank you very much but I'm spoken for."

Another tip is always to have a pair of headphones in your pocket. It is awful to be trapped on a train with someone going through all their fears and traumas about being blind. Just say that you are going to listen to an audio book. Pop on the headphones and put the jack in your pocket. They'll never know the difference.

I Promise you using such techniques is the only way to survive if you are blind. 


  1. This made me giggle so hard! I'm not blind, but I do puppy raise for GDB in America. I've gotten a lot of similar questions.

    "Are you blind?" Answer: Who said that? (obviously they didn't read the writing on the jacket that says, "Puppy in Training")

    "Don't you become attached to the puppy?" Answer: God no! I hate dogs.

    "I can't believe they let you bring a puppy in here!" Answer: I can't believe they let your kid in here.

    I don't mind answering serious questions when they arise, but I too have learned that sometimes on a train or bus it's just better to have some earphones. :)

  2. Hi, I'm a puppywalker in your area and I also get my fair share of the silly questions. The GDO who had my 3rd pup had some good answers, my favourite being - "Is that a blind dog?" Answer - "If it is then we're both in deep trouble" She was also once informed after boarding the wrong bus that her dog needed retraining as he'd read the bus number wrong!
    Wishing you and Renton all the best - he's beautiful.

  3. Hi Ian, Great blog! I'm getting a Guide Dog right now too, I'm on Day 2 of the training at a hotel! It's been wonderful to hear your thoughts on the process. I am looking forward to seeing your documentary although I fear it may be difficult as it's only aired in Scotland, perhaps you could tell us a way of watching it in England?
    I try to update my own blog on occasion, feel free to take a look!
    Keep up the great work! Odene my new pup sends her love to Renton!

  4. Hi Ian,

    One more request to air this doc in England too.

    Come on don't be such a

    Love your blog.


  5. Love your blog ( I have a GSD and confess to being fanatical. Your desciptions of Renton's behavoiur is so typical and funny.
    I do now wonder how I might be perceived by other people as I always say Hello and talk to passing dogs - never the owners 'cos I'm not interested in them. I never talk to guide dogs in case I distract them and wouldn't like to be responsible for dog and handler being squished or whatever.
    Enjoy your dogs - there is nothing can fill the space a dog leaves when you no longer have them.