I was walking along a quiet road this morning with the road on my right. Jasmine, for want of a better word was being a little bugger! She kept coming across me and looking over the road and at times she even stopped and refused to go on. In the early days with Jasmine at home I had problems with her refusing and assumed for some reason, that she’d decided to give this diversionary tactic another airing. I thought nothing much of it and kept her going with the techniques I’d been shown in training.
Just before I turned the corner at the end of the road, a man crossed over to my side of the road laughing. Wasn’t it funny, he said, that my dog could be so easily distracted and how she wanted to get to him. He then went on to explain that he’d been waving at her and looking at her all the way down the road. I said that no, it wasn’t funny, and that he was interfering with her work. He walked off and I carried on towards work.
I was astounded that this guy had been amused by distracting my dog, but more so that he’d continued doing it down the whole length of a road. I was also freaked out by the fact that he had obviously done it so quietly in order that I wouldn’t know.
I mentioned it to six sighted colleagues who, without exception, felt that his behaviour was inappropriate and inconsiderate but nothing worse than that. I felt differently. I felt afraid, knowing that someone had been influencing my dog without my knowing. I felt extremely angry and vulnerable as he’d virtually had me on remote control. His actions were affecting my dog’s work to such an extent that he was impeding my progress.
Sure, loads of people regularly distract guide dogs, but you’d think that, having seen what a level of distraction you had caused, you’d stop and go on with your business? It just goes to show how minimally the thoughts and feelings of blind people feature on these people’s radar. Surely it’s no different to car drivers who deliberately drive so close to the person in front, particularly if she’s a woman, or who overtake and try to run her off the road. That sort of driving could be interpreted as aggressive driving.
My partner, who is blind, thinks I should have people following me as he’s convinced this guy will appear again. I really don’t know what to do.
I feel harassed, manipulated, afraid and angry but I get the feeling that most people would think I’m over reacting.
The main thing to work on is Jasmine’s people distraction so that I can work her past undesirable people confidently.
I always think of the perfect put-down after the event and today is no exception. I’d love to have said: “My dog will grow up and learn not be distracted by idiots like you, but I suspect you’ll never grow up”.