Inconsiderate? Inappropriate? … Or Worse?

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”.

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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19 Responses to Inconsiderate? Inappropriate? … Or Worse?

  1. a complete fucking disgrace.
    HI Mel:
    now this post has me completely floored. did that man for one minute consider your safety? no, the fact you might be a new guide dog user? no. He is a complete fuckwit, asshole and needs to be shown by actions what a distracted dog can be like if you depend on them for guidance. i am sorry if this comes across harsh, but maybe he will go blind in the next few eyars, get a dog, and you can arrage for the same thing to happen to him. this is interfeerance with your gide animal in a constructed and premeditated way, taht, if it hadn’t been for your experties in guide dog handling, you would have been put in a dangerous sitaution. This man needs to be stopped, for he now has it in his head that it is a good thing to distract guide dogs, and the next one he tries his shitty little game on might run across the road and endanger the handler. for fuck’s sake, i’ve never heard anything so dreadful. i will retweet your posting, so that others might read it, and put it on vi general access list too.
    thanks for being so frank and discrptive.

    • Anonymous says:

      Re: a complete fucking disgrace.
      he should have his eyes ripped out. Harsh I know but thats the only way to teach someone a lesson.

  2. dankriss says:

    That is so wrong!…wouldn’t it be great to get hold of him and blind fold him and say there you go you find your way with nothing!
    Some people just don’t think!
    Kriss 🙂

  3. Anonymous says:

    That post is unbelievable. It is ashame nothing can e done about this incodent, at least jasmine got on track eentually

  4. fleurette67 says:

    Absolutely disgusting!
    Hi Mel! You are absolutely right in your condemnation of that man’s behaviour: it’s also understandable that you should feel vulnerable when anyone takes advantage of your blindness like that. It’s bad enough that sighted people should distract guide dogs anyway, but to have one of them, physically an adult but definitely withouta crumb of adult common sense as far as I’m concerned, finding amusement in distracting your dog is unbelievably disgusting. I wouldn’t go as far as wanting to poke that bloke’s eyes out, but a very good punishment would be blindfolding him, giving him an inexperienced and easily distractable guide dog, and sending him out into a very busy road. Hopefully, preferably soon, Jasmine will grow out of being distracted by passers-by, but in the meantime I hope you meet up with as few idiots as possible who act like that bloke did. Would a person who can walk grab a wheelchair and pull its occupant off their route or make it impossible for the wheelchair-user to move without that person’s permission? No! So why do some sighted idiots think it’s perfectly all right to take advantage of the fact that blind people can’t see what they’re doing? I wish I new the answer to that question! Sorry, I’m ranting in a comment on your LJ yet again, but your anger at this incident with that rude and inconsiderate dimwit of a man is totally justified as far as I’m concerned.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Ignorance on a new level
    It’s unfair on you and it’s unfair on Jasmine. The hours of work (and sometimes stress for dog & handler) that goes into a partnership can so easily be undone by exposure to idiots like that. The dogs are required to work against so many instincts and to deliberately tease her – putting your safety at risk and Jasmine’s career – it’s a vile thing to do.
    You don’t need to know anything about guide dogs to be able to understand the potential consequences of those actions. Why then did he continue? Does he want to enjoy watching Jasmine being chastised or corrected? Did he want to see her trip you up or put you in danger? Did he want to feel powerful at being able to use Jasmine’s instincts against you both? It’s too stupid and pathetic for words.
    Ignoring smells, people, moving objects, food etc is such very hard work for these dogs. Unfairly tipping the scales against them is cruel!
    Mel I’d consider making an official report on this incident in case this man tries it again. I’m sorry for you and Jasmine, these types of things can be so potentially damaging to the relationship between dog & handler. People don’t try distract pet dogs in this way, because if they did they would have 30 kilos of slobbering dog jumping on them within a few seconds. Jasmine did well under the circumstances!!
    Kirsty x

  6. barkingbabs says:

    Not at all acceptable
    This article finally moved me to create an LJ account so I could respond. Even more disturbing than the actions of this person, are the opinions of sighted people who see it as inconsiderate, inappropriate but nothing worse. It is worse. It is mean, dangerous, cruel and totally unacceptable. Even if this person did not realise the danger he was placing Mel and Jasmine in, what was it about them both which made him feel he had the right to treat them in such a disrespectful and disgusting way? And Mel, ask your female colleagues how they would feel about being followed by a strange man? See if then they’d change their minds about it being nothing to get too upset about. When will people start taking our feelings seriously? When will people like this stop being tolerated as nothing worse than a mild nuisance and treated as the low-life scum they are. I agree with those who say don’t let this continue. Now he knows the control he has, he may continue to exploit it for his own amusement. Not to frighten you any further than you must already be feeling, but it may be worth having a sighted person behind you at a distance to see if he tries it again for a few days. If he does, ask him to stop and explain why. If he persists then report him to the police. I had a similar problem a few years ago when a local drunk was pestering my guide dog and getting great enjoyment from it. I asked him to stop and explained why. he continued. When I called the police they eventually issued him with a caution for harassment. They said that if someone is behaving in a certain way and you ask them to stop, they continue and you feel threatened as a result. That is harassment and cautionable. And for those who think Mel is making a fuss about nothing. Well, if you are that sort of a person there’s probably no point in even speaking to you and trying to explain how volnerable a blind person can feel at times. Mel, I know you are equal to this and Jasmine is a great dog, so will cope. Just keep your chin up and don’t let the ******’s in the world get you down!

    • Re: Not at all acceptable
      i think interfeering with a service animal should be on the level of asault. it is tant amount to that anyway. if you tip a wheelchair user out of their chair it is seen as such. so why isn’t interfeering with a guide dog? even from a distance? thoughts?

      • barkingbabs says:

        Re: Not at all acceptable
        Excellent point. But as we all know, blind people are at the bottom of the disability heap when it comes to equality. Yes, definitely what I would see as assault and the wheelchair comparison is an accurate one.

    • pauraque says:

      Re: Not at all acceptable
      Interfering with guide dogs is illegal in some US states and can be punished by fines or jail time. I’m not sure what the legal status is in the UK, but that kind of behavior is not only scary but obviously dangerous and should be made illegal everywhere.

  7. welshgeordie says:

    Hi Mel,
    I’ve not got much to add to what’s already been said here except I totally agree with everything that’s been said. This is far worse than a minor nuisance or inconvenience, for all the reasons the guys have put here. I too think that having someone follow you in support, to teach this arsehole a lesson is a great idea. Everything I’m coming up with to follow this sentence recommends violence lol. So I’ll just finish the same way a previous commenter did. Keep your chin up, don’t let the bastards get you down and keep working with Jasmine. You make a great team, aside from idiots like him putting his spoke in, and I’ve noticed you on a number of occasions now being proud of puppy. Keep at it, she’ll see you right. Take care, and stay safe,

  8. Anonymous says:

    Sick People
    We live in world full of people like this ass that Mel & Jasmine came across this morning.That thinks that playing a sick game like distracting guide dogs is fun. I think even if that person had been seen by the police he would have been let off. And not charged with assult or something that would show up on a CRB check to make other people think long and hard before distracting any working animal.

    • Anonymous says:

      Re: Sick People
      Hi, I have a guide dog, and I agree with your comment. About two months ago, I was walking home and I heard someone walking towards me, then the ignorant Pom (excuse me I don’t hate Poms, just dislike this one) litterally kept blocking my path while the dog kept moving to his left. When the man saw that the dog had no room left to move over, the ass petted the dog, touched the back of my right arm and said “it’s all right!” as though casually petting a pet dog and walked on as though nothing happened, even though I said that the dog is working and I didn’t want it to be distracted. So I was treated like a blind bitch who’s dog is just some pet who guides me around and there was no consideration that he’s not a pet at all! Out of harness yes it’s true, but noone cares really about this fact. Noone. Verry horrible. They should be jailed for life. If it’s ok to jail someone for attacking police dogs and other service animals, then why are guide dogs and hearing dogs left open for attack or ridicule? Excuse me, but I get treated like I’m being cruel by not allowing people to pat my guide dog while he’s working, yet they’re the friggen first to abuse him by friggen well distracting him! Excuse me, where’s the sense in that? Sorry for the rant, but I needed to unbottle this.
      Cheers and have a good day.

  9. what an idiot
    from reading this i’d definitely put an official report in, that sort of thing scares me, knowing he was following you. huge hugs.

    • ezzie_j says:

      Re: what an idiot
      That’s disgusting. People like that are so sick.
      Big hugs to you, I’d expect you were rather shaken.
      All good points from commenters above, definitely get some support from a sighted person to see if he does it again.
      I’d luv to be behind you with a cane or one of my heavier walking stiks. Baseball bat anyone? 😛 .
      Take care.

  10. what the police say.
    hi mel. have spoken to suffolk police about this, as laws on harrasment etc are the same as where you are. they say it is anti social at the moment, but if he persists then it’s harrasment. it only becomes asult when something happens to you as a direct result of his actions, or he gets physical with you. sorry about this. i think we should go down the american route, of at least a fine for interfeering with a service animal .

  11. soulsmystery says:

    I definitely think you should make a report about his behaviour.
    It is disgusting that he would put both of you in danger and to actually think it was amusing is appalling.

  12. Anonymous says:

    I really don’t get it why the public does this sort of thing.
    “Oooooh what a good boy, I’ve got one just like yours at home” is the kind of bullshit sentiment I hear so often when I’m out with my wife – dog in harness. For a start, this is a massive misunderstanding of the role of the dog, and to follow it up, a massive disrespect to the GDO. As far as I’m concerned, any decent GDO (i.e. qualified) should be afforded the respect routinely given to a police dog handler, a search and rescue dog handler, or any number of professional animal wranglers – when was the last time you saw bomb-squad having to break-off from their work to explain to some idiot that messing with their dogs is putting a life at risk ?
    It took me a couple of years watching how my wife is routinely abused by the public when she’s out and about working, that I’ve got to the stage that I’ll quite happily enter a scene from “off-stage” and give people a mouth-full if I see them going for the dog. I’m beyond caring if I offend them, and actually quite revel in their surprise and hurt reactions.
    “For fuck’s sake – you wouldn’t mess with someone’s wheelchair, so leave the dog alone” is a phrase I’ve toyed with in several respectable retail establishments in the recent past – much to the surprise of the one perpetrating the offensive behaviour as they seem to think they can “get away with it” as the GDO can’t see what’s happening, or simply hasn’t the right to complain.
    There are just too many idiots out there – this is easy to prove given the acid yellow sign adorning the dog … what does it say again ? “please don’t distract me I’m working” … well, if the idiots really do have a dog “just like yours” sitting at home, the least they ought to do is train the thing to guide them through the streets as their offensive behaviour is obviously proof that their eyesight is insufficient to read size 40 print at a mere 4ft distance … either that or an outward sign of some brain injury or other …
    I realise there is a political issue at hand as the public feel somehow that they own the dogs having donated to the charity that provides them but to my mind its really fucking simple : I wouldn’t dream of caressing someones walking-stick as they walked along, or letting down the tires of a wheelchair, and yet, having paid national insurance, I’ve probably contributed to providing these essential mobility aids.
    Why the hell this knob-head thought it was okay to assault you in this way is beyond me. I’d recommend you learn to shout whilst all the while weilding a can of personal attack dye spray, rape alarm, or similar. give the fucker something to think about as brute force is probably the only method he’s gonna listen to.
    you have my sincere sympathy and respect and I hope this never happens to you and your most excellent hound again.

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