As Cisco is introduced to more and more of my groups and activities, Ive noticed that there are 2 most often asked questions about a guide dog. Of course, the first one that comes to mind is, whats your dogs name?
People will ask that as they step into the elevator with you, as if thats more important than anything else. When they sit near you in church, at a meeting, on the bus, its the first thing that comes out of their mouths. Not Hi, how are you? Not thats a beautiful dog. Not, and wouldnt this be great, Hi, my name is . And whats yours? No, its whats your dogs name?
Its not a good idea to answer this question directly or even honestly. We dog guide handlers address this question in several ways. The best way is to explain that the dog is on duty, and therefore should not be distracted by the attention of a person other than his handler using his name. But this is way too complicated and long. Sometimes, we say, Hes working right now, so hes not allowed to be social, but my name is. Some handlers prefer to be blunt and say, I dont tell people his name. others will make up a name, because we know that as soon as we tell someone the name, that person is going to talk to the dog. Then we have to tell them not to do that. I like the made up name best, and Ive decided on one that will get the message across that Im not about to tell you his real name. when people ask me, I say Handsome Dude. It worked the other day in a restaurant as I was sitting on a bench with another lady, waiting to be seated. Her friend, who was standing nearby, asked her what the name of the dog was, and she said, Handsome dude.
The other most commonly asked question is not How old is he? How long have you been together? Where was he trained? although these questions are frequently asked. No, what they always want to know is, does he sleep with you? Seriously? Is this because they let their dogs sleep with them, and they want to know if Seeing Eye dogs are allowed to do the same? Or, do they think the dogs job is to be with me constantly, even when Im asleep? Or, are they hoping he does, because they think he should be pampered when hes not working? Well, heres the answer for those of you who havent yet asked that question, although youve been dying to know. No. He sleeps in a crate, because thats what hes used to. He had a crate when he was a puppy, and he had a crate in our room at The Seeing eye. Now he has a crate, just like the one at the school, in my bedroom. Its a really snazzy one, made of see-through fabrick, which he could probably chew through if he had a mind to. But he seems to be quite content in there at night. Sometimes, he goes in,even before Im ready to go to bed myself. Its like hes saying, You can stay up all night, but Im tired, and I want to go to bed.
Im not promising that hell never get to sleep on my bed. After all, when Pippen got old, she was allowed to curl up next to me every night. But for right now, establishing that Im the alpha in this family is very important.
Meanwhile, I look forward to the questions, because for right now, Cisco, that is, Handsome Dude is my favorite topic of conversation.