Saturday, July 14, 2007

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

A guide dog free zone

Thanks to all for your comments after my post about retiring my guide dog.

Right. Well I did it. He's gone. Liam finally retired. I am now without dog for the first time in 16 years.

I was petrified at the idea of giving him up. But, now he's gone, I am kind of beginning to appreciate not having a dog now. It's a nice break after 16 years not to have a knee high hairy golden shadow that needs feeding and putting out every few hours. It's now down to me and my trusty white cane.

so on my first day without, I turned up to work especially early. It's funny but having to use a cane feels slightly less dignified and makes me feel a little helpless. I don't think I used to feel like that when I was a full time cane user though. I know loads of people use them with no hassle and no wish to get a dog. I turned up early so no one would see me walking through reception and down the corridors in my new inanimate mobility aid world.

Tip tap, smash. Tip tap, smash. Actually I wasn't that bad ... I know the place so well that I could get by without barely using the cane at all. I imagine people think blind people use white canes in their own homes. Nah. If you live in a place and know it well, you don't need a cane. No self respecting blind person would use a cane to get from the lounge to the kitchen or vice versa. Similarly I could pretty much get by at work without a cane but there are so many people around that I think it's best to keep it in my hand and remind people I won't easily get out of their way if they charge towards me. Ladies and gentlemen, it's a health and safety concern.

Not much to say really other than I'm doing better than I thought. And have even had some mobility training around my home area. never thought I'd be able to find my way back home. With a dog it's a piece of piss - he knows which house is mine so will just walk up the front path to my door without me asking. With a white cane, well, it's two trees then find the hedge on the right. Cross the road at this point. Pass two skinny trees, three severe metal lamp posts that could really hurt ... and then find the big tree. Double back slightly and it's the second gate on the right.

You have to remember much more if you're a cane user. Not so good for a mid 30s fella who's definitely having classic thirty-something memory issues. Was that the second tree or the first? Not a matter of life or death but more a matter of home or someone elses's home.