Directly Against Advice given

Have just returned from an overnight stay with friends in Birmingham which was great fun. because i’ve had very little training with jasmine on train stations, I booked assistance and was fully prepared not to work Jasmine on the stations. this worked well until we returned to Nottingham where, once again, no one bothered to show up to meet us from the train. After waiting a few minutes I realised that no one was going to turn up, so I decided to work Jasmine, directly against advice given to me on training. She did well, I didn’t brush or walk into anyone or anything, and when I prompted her, she found the steps very positively. However, I didn’t feel at all confident as I really don’t know how much work she has done on stations what with the general belief that we all have sighted assistance readily available to us. Jasmine’s tension was very high and I really felt that she lacked experience in this type of work.

I have this evening written an Email to our District Team manager at guide Dogs, outlining the incident and asking him why the decision appears to have been made in recent years to do very little work with Guide dogs and their owners on train stations. I remember working up and down platforms with my first dog and even turning her straight towards the rails and asking her to go forward and feeling that tremendous confidence in her when she refused. How I wish the dogs had this level of training still. I have no doubt that Jasmine will gain a lot of experience and do well on stations, but today she felt very green indeed.

I’d love to know why station staff, particularly at Nottingham, feel that its OK to leave blind people to fend for themselves when they have requested assistance. Had I been a less experienced handler, or had jasmine had a lesser level of initiative, today could have been extremely detrimental to our training as a partnership. In the past when I’ve spoken to managers at Nottingham, they just say they are too busy at times to meet us. Pity the staff huddled around the heater this evening playing little hitlers with the ticket barriers couldn’t have gone out and done some real customer facing work.

The invisibility of blind people in this respect also went in my favour this weekend though. The ticket collectors on the trains systematically ignored me so it wasn’t my fault that I went to Birmingham and back for free!

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About Mel Griffiths

I live and work in Nottingham, England and am blind. This blog is often centred around things that happen to me because of being blind. This is my space to write and sometimes people will disagree with what I write, but its the one place I have in which to be frank and honest. I also like to reflect on the funnier side of life from time to time.
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3 Responses to Directly Against Advice given

  1. Anonymous says:

    YOur latest Guide Dog incident
    Hi there, I read your last post with interest. I can’t believe that they do not do any work with you at all in stations. We did here in Ireland. We are not encouraged to work in stations if we can get assistance and the only placesI don’t like working my dog in over in England are the underground stations. I would say that where platforms are concerned always try to make sure if it is possible that your dog is on the side of the tracks. I also think that you can get her use to new working situations yourself so if she does it again she will be more relaxed than today and also may have been disturbed by your tension also. I would also complain to the train company for not being met as this surely is neglegent on there part not to do so?
    Cheers, Nicky.

  2. louise_1985 says:

    I sympathise…
    Hi Mel,
    I totally sympathise with the assistance…or lack there of. It has happened to me on numerous occasions and on the last time, myself and Nicky had to work our way out of Fenchurch street station which is nothing but steps going in all different directionns and people pushing here there and everywhere. I never bothered before getting mobility around Fenchurch street because I usually just get assistance as it’s so busy…but i’ve appealed to GDBA to show me around there hundreds of times in recent years…to no effect! Glad to hear Jasmin did so well though!
    Take care,
    Lou X

  3. fleurette67 says:

    Disgraceful situation
    Hi Mel! Although I am not a guide dog owner, I can sympathise with your predicament when you got back to Nottingham. Why is it that the guide dog training people don’t bother to teach the dogs or their owners how to work in railway stations any more? And why should they assume that you’ll always get sighted assistance at railway stations, when you can bear witness to the fact that this is definitely not the case? I don’t blame you in the least for going against advice and making Jasmine work at Nottingham station when the assistance you asked for didn’t happen. As you say, it was lucky that you are an experienced guide dog owner who had training at railway stations years ago, although I agree with a previous poster here that Jasmine probably sensed that you were tense and that explains why she was tense herself. Nottingham railway station staff should buck their ideas up and meet blind people when blind people ask them to be there, and the guide dog training people should go back to training guide dog owners to work with their dogs in railway stations as they used to do, so that they are not stuck as to what to do if, for whatever reasons, they can’t find sighted assistance when wanting to get on or off a train.

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