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Saturday, 23 April 2011

Six steps to bed and back or the blind hotel game!


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Its holiday time, and I thought I would just share my experiences of staying in hotels with a Guide Dog.
My first challenge when staying at an unfamiliar hotel is, finding my way into the building! 
If the hotel has a revolving door my guide dog Renton  will see it as a hazard and refuse to move. I’m left standing on the pavement wondering why he’s not budging. It is only when a passer by mutters something about a revolving door, that I understand what’s happening. I now start to coax and eventually bribe him to step into the gap while the door is slowly rotating. Not easy for a dog to co-ordinate.  Timing is crucial here. (So is a small dog) Unfortunately, I’ve a seven and a half  stone German Shepherd. A bit like trying to get an elephant into a lift. The door flicks us from behind into reception. Paws, luggage, bits of fur and me land in an undignified heap - what an entrance. the first challenge in this game has now been completed successfully.
The second challenge awaits, I’m in the reception area, now to locate the reception desk. You would think after making such an impressive entrance, someone would notice and call over to me. But, no.. Listening carefully I strain my ears for a clue. Nope! May be a doorman will come over and point me in the correct direction. No!  Eventually a phone rings in the distance “Hello, Elvira speaking.” Aha! Renton and I make our way towards the voice.
Elvira asks me for the registration number of my car, I’m standing there with my guide dog – I doubt that she has even glanced in my direction.  A porter takes me along endless corridors, two sets of lifts, and a rope swing, eventually reaching my room. 
The second challenge has been completed…now the third challenge.  The porter opens the door with a plastic card, quickly points around the room and tries to leave. I force him to stay and explain every detail of the room which includes funnily enough, how to open the door. I never know which way the card should go in. I’ve spent many an hour in a hotel corridor trying every possible combination.

I find that I have been given the disabled room. I can understand why they do this, However, the facilities a blind person needs aren’t the same as someone who is a wheelchair user. The room is huge and it takes me literally 10 minutes to find the bed and a chair and another 10 to find the window.  I hear the dog quietly snuffling about, he thinks its a park, I hope it doesn’t have a green carpet or we could have a spillage!
Part 2 to come. . 

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