Canes And Dogs


Canes And Dogs

     TAP, TAP, SCRAPE. CLICK, CLICK, SCRACH. The two blind guys walked and talked their way down the street. One friend used a long white cane and the other a dog guide.

     “I’m glad we’ll be getting to the bus stop early. My feet are killing me.”

      “Yes, me too. What a way to spend a day off! First a 9:00 meeting downtown, next a quick run to the mall, lunch, then back downtown for shopping in the Old Market and now finally home.”

      Seated at the bus stop, legs stretched out, cane held vertically alongside a knee, dog guide comfortably lying between the two friends, they waited.

      “Excuse me.” Said a by-stander. “I see that one of you has a dog, and one a cane. Why? I mean, why did you choose one over the other?”


e-mail responses to

**1. “This is a situation my husband and I find ourselves in frequently. He is
a guide dog user and I use a cane. My parents believed in the importance
of using a cane and, although I had no formal training for a few years,
they gave me a cane when I was about eight years old. They showed me what
they'd seen adult blind people doing with their canes and encouraged me to
carry it when I walked from our house to the store. When I was eleven, they sent me to a summer course at the school for the blind, which I
attended, and I began my formal cane travel training. So, I believe I had
a good foundation in cane travel and was taught, from a young age, of
the importance of using my cane. Additionally, my family never had a pet
dog, so I wasn't raised around dogs; although we wanted one. My husband,
on the other hand, never had formal cane travel training. He was raised
around dogs and always wanted a guide dog. He used a cane, for a
short time, with little information on the proper way to use it. Then, he
got a dog and has used a dog since them; with the exception of the short
periods of time between dogs. So, we came from two different backgrounds,
regarding travel, and that formed the basis for our choices. And, that's
just what it is, a choice. I love dogs and love the dogs he has had since
we've been married. Would I like to use a dog in the future? Possibly;
I've considered it. But haven't really made a decision. Would my husband
ever use a cane? Not if he didn't have to.”

Cindy Handel (Willow Street, Pennsylvania, USA, )

FROM ME: “Well, that’s one situation, a taste of both choices. Let’s see what comes in next. Remember the inquisitive by-stander’s question, “Why, did you choose?”

**2. “I’ve been using a white cane since I was nine years old, and at the age
of 34, it still works for me. Sure, I get bumps and bruises, and I get
somewhat disoriented in open spaces, but I can live with that. I like to
find obstacles and landmarks with my cane, and I like knowing the lay of the
land. I travel well with my friends, some of whom have canes and others who
have dogs. I walk briskly and confidently.
I do love animals and know how to discipline them as well. Sometimes I
envy my friends who have dogs, because they get a lot of attention.
I like the idea of having a dog companion to walk with me. I could see
myself getting a dog at some point.
However, I have an erratic schedule. I live in a tiny apartment with a
linoleum-on-cement floor and not much furniture. I'm comfortable using a
cane. So I'll continue to admire those who have guides as well as those who
have canes, as long as they can travel and find their way to whatever
destination they choose. To each his own mode of travel.

Teresa Cochran (Berkley, California) USA

**3. “Well, I managed more than quite nicely with a white cane until the ripe
old age of 28 when I got my first Dog Guide. Now, at the rotten old age
of 51, I wouldn't (though I could) go back to using a cane.

I had all the supposed advantages of those of us who were born blind. In
fact, without knowing it, *I invented "white cane technique" at the tender
age of 10. Our family went camping and tried unsuccessfully to keep me
from wandering the campgrounds and walking out onto various piers to grope
the boats tied up there, or to fish at 4 A.M. in the morning. Walking off
and unceremoniously plopping off into the water just wasn't my idea of a
good time. Worse was falling off into someone's boat and likely landing on
and bending (or breaking) fishing net handles and rods--and those damned
fish hooks--ouch!

Well, I decided that a stick would do just fine and used my best boy cub
skills to find a straight one about 4 feet long (then about my length) and
using it to trail the edge of the dock. Oh yes, it also came in handy for
cracking skulls of a few campground bullies.

When it's minus 35 degrees, as can often happen in Winnipeg Manitoba Canada,
with blind man's fog up to my Ying-yang (snow), walking across an industrial
park with nothing but parking lot and no one out there was no joy with a

Now with my dog, I have few cases of frozen ears, and I like that!”

Doug Parisian


302 - 960 Portage Avenue

Winnipeg, M B

R3G 0R4

Voice Phone: (204) 775-1789

Toll Free: 1-800-722-6825 (1-800-SCANTALK

Fax/Modem: (204) 783-0055

Email: )

**4. “I use a cane because it works well for me and I like that it is always ready. I learned good travel skills in Iowa and I think that is an important factor. If I were to use a dog, I would still use my cane too. I will not put my life and happiness in the hands or paws of another being.”

**5. I always considered myself a good cane traveler. I could move right
along, and usually did not have too much difficulty. However, as years went by,
traffic became heavier, and, after having been hit by a car, and not
necessarily in that order, I decided it was time for a guide.

One place where a good guide outshines a cane almost always is locating an entrance to an unfamiliar building. A good guide will guide one around
obstacles before they are encountered.

I personally prefer to use a guide, with the occasional assistance from a
cane; in locating a bus bench or mailbox or to determine what the
obstacle is if the dog stops. I have the utmost respect for skilled users of both.
I hate to see the controversy arise. But then, I hate it when those
holier than thou and insist their way is the only way.

I am currently without a dog as I returned my guide of nine months to the
school for several issues. I will probably get another eventually. But
not right now.”

Doris Fisher (Blind-issues)

FROM ME: “Interesting phrase, “ I have the utmost respect for skilled users of both…. Does this mean the same out of context as it did in her response?”

**6. “Hello. While this topic seems to be discussed a great deal, it is a topic
worth exploring as it affects most blind people. I think I’m a good person
to comment on this as I have tried using a dog twice and chose to return to
the cane. Both of the dogs performed superbly and my decision had nothing
to do with the dogs themselves. The first time I tried to work with a dog
was the summer right after college. There were several reasons it didn't
work then. First, my travel skills were not very well developed. I grew up
in a suburban area and, while I did have orientation and mobility training,
I didn't really ever use it except during the lessons. You have to know
where you're going if you're going to direct your dog. A second reason it
didn't work was that I was going through some major transition in my life.
I had just finished college, was starting a campus ministry internship and
beginning to understand what it means to be independent. Anyway, I was not
able to deal with the extra work and the stress of having a dog. I returned
the dog after a few weeks. I felt like a real failure. I felt so guilty
that the school had spent all this money on me and now I was returning the
dog. Also, sighted people tended to make me feel guilty for returning the
"beautiful dog." I bought in to their criticism and it was a really tough

After I got out of college, I decided it was time for me to improve my
travel skills. IT was a great feeling of freedom to be able to go where I
wanted to go whenever I wanted to go there. (I guess none of us can do that
all the time, but you get the gist." Anyway, several years ago I decided to
try a dog again. I wanted some of the speed and smooth movement that seemed
to be present for people I knew who worked with dogs. This time, I kept the
dog for about six weeks. Again, I decided it was not a good thing for me. I
didn't feel more independent. My independence was based on being dependent
on a dog who was also dependent on me. I felt as though I had a
two-year-old with me all of the time. (That's fine if it is a child,
children grow up. A dog is different.) I found that while certain
situations were easier with the dog such as crossing parking lots and
traveling through open areas, I tended to miss some of the things I
discovered with my cane such as mailboxes, trees, etc. Anyway, I decided
that the benefits were not worth the cost for me. I contacted the school
and outlined my concerns. I asked them if they felt I should give myself
longer to adjust to life with a dog. They said it sounded as though this
was not the right thing for me and that they knew of a woman who would work
very well with my dog and who needed one. I returned the dog with no
feelings of guilt or condemnation. I celebrated the fact that I had grown
enough to make a positive choice in my life and not worry about what others

Neither a dog nor cane is right for everyone. Each person must weigh the
pros and cons and must identify his/her values.

(Leslie, this is a very long response and you will likely need to edit it.
These are my thoughts/experiences on this one.)”

Kathy McGillivray (Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA, )

FROM ME: “ I didn’t edit it. And here was a lady that tried them both, as the lady before her in response 5. And they each chose what works best for them. But before I let you lose, let’s catch how many different biggie reasons out there for why a person chooses one method over the other.
In this one we see as a negative for the first time, ”…as though I had a
two-year-old with me all of the time… (Hum, wonder if anyone out there sees this as a positive? Seriously!?)”

**7. “Why did you choose one (cane) over the other (dog)?

The typical answer is usually one of two things:

1. The cane user has never learned about the advantages of a guide dog.
Most of us were taught to use a cane as our first real independent
mobility aid and have never graduated to something better - a guide dog.

2. The cane user does not want the so-called inconvenience and
responsibility of caring for a dog. Boy, what this person is missing!
How much is your life worth? My guide dog literally saved my life and
has saved me from harm and injury many times. This makes a little
inconvenience well worth it!

Besides, snuggling up to a cane when you need companionship is not very

Lynn J. Boulter (Salt Lake City, Utah, USA)

FROM ME: “Another couple of biggies. This one being the bigger, ”My guide dog literally saved my life…”

**8. “I like to use a cane because I don't have to feed and water it. It's a good conversation piece and I get funny comments like, “Is that a fishing rod?”

Anne Mauro (NFB-talk)

FROM ME: “a Yay, for the cane; a convenience and conversation piece.”

**9. “As to the question of CANES AND DOGS, I must say that many things
motivated me to choose a dog over a cane. One of those is that I have
used dogs since I graduated from college but not a guide dog.

When I graduated from college, I elected to attend graduate school but I
did not want a roommate. Fearful of living alone with my hearing loss,
I applied for and received Butter, my first service dog. I was also
losing my sight which made use of visual aids for the deaf difficult to
rely on. However, my vision was still too good for a guide dog but I
know I wanted one.

My peripheral vision worsens so I did begin using a cane and I hated it.
I could not rely on the sounds to "tell" me anything and it seems to
have a mind of its own, finding every conceivable crack in the sidewalk
or getting up close and personal with unsavory chairs, tables and even
barstools. It loved to trip people or collapse unexpectedly and it
never stopped for curbs or puddles of water.

I found myself getting tension headaches because I was straining to hear
things, to judge distances of the sound of oncoming cars. Concentrating
so hard was also causing me to slow down, become fearful and uncertain.

So I applied for and received my wonderful Zaria from Leader Dogs for
the Blind, one of the few schools accepting "hard of hearing" and
"visually impaired" students. Last night, Zaria earned everything I
have to give her; we were forced to go from the library to the computer
lab way across campus. We had done this in the daylight but I am night
blind and photophobic and have less than three degrees of right eye
vision. I would disoriented by the lights and changes in the lighting
system but Zaria was not. I told her "Forward" and she dodged the
parked cars in the parking lots, found the curbs and blessedly the door
to my building; all without specific direction from me.

That is my reason for choosing a dog over a cane. I can use my cane but
I feel awkward and clumsy with it. I do highly respect those who use
canes exclusively because I know the skills they must have to use them.”

Debra Streeter (Victoria, Texas, USA,

**10. "I have been using guide dogs since 1965 and love them dearly. Was an
excellent cane user but as time has gone on and additional physical
problems have arisen the dog is the only practical way for me to get about
and my dogs have always been more than tools as well. They are companions
of a special type in one's life. Few living beings give as much and ask as
little as they do and you just want to do as much as you can in return.”

Lisa Carmelle

FROM ME: “She makes a point, ‘…but as time has gone on and additional physical
problems have arisen the dog is the only practical way for me to get about…’ A special need is fulfilled.”

11. “I think you bring some interesting points here. When i was at a rehab
agency down south, a representative from a guide agency or should I say
dog guide agency (not guide dogs) came to speak to us. I asked about
advantages and disadvantages between a dog versus a cane. This person
gave a kind of huffy answer like it depends on what you want. I didn't
like the way my question was fielded. In making that sort of decision, I
think one would need to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of both;
not pit one against the other. Apparently each can be helpful with
different things.”

Laurie F. Dow (Blindad)

**12. “I think it is difficult to say how either a cane or a dog is universally
better or worse for a blind person. I think it is a decision that only
the user of the cane/dog can decide. No one else can tell you how you
should or should not travel.

I am a) a cane user, but that does not mean that I am ignorant of how a dog can be beneficial
b) convinced that a dog is too inconvenient to be useful

I am very aware that a dog can be beneficial and a rewarding experience,
but in the same way that saying "Children are wonderful, therefore all
people should have children" is incorrect, so is the idea that all blind
people need to throw down their canes and go get their guide dogs, cause
darn it, dogs are just great and all blind people should use them.

I choose a cane because it works for me now. A dog would not work with
my plans in life right NOW, but I am considering one in about 2 years
when my life can accommodate a dog (Not to mention, I want one when I
start up at school full time).

I know how to use my cane, and it has yet to fail me. I have been using
it without fail for almost 3 years now, and I have never broken it or
been broken as a result of using one. It probably even saved my life
several times. It works great for me, and frankly, I do not want a dog in
my life now. It would not work for me now.

You cannot gloss over the inconvenience of having a dog, because it IS an
inconvenience in some cases. You cannot say the inconveniences are
"so-called," because they exist. You have to feed/bather/brush and take
the dog out in the rain. You have to keep the dog in your tiny studio
apartment if you cannot afford something bigger. If your dog pukes on
the subway, you have to clean that up (a friend of mine who used a dog
had this happen to him). You never have to clean up after a cane. You
cannot travel to Sweden from the US without putting your dog under
quarantine for who knows how long (my plan is to go vacation in Sweden
next summer) That is inconvenient, no matter how you slice it.

These inconveniences do NOT mean that you do not have a dog. It's like
children. Having children are a huge responsibility. Children too, are
inconvenient--but you get great rewards for these inconveniences. But you
don't just go out and "get" a child.

I imagine a guide dog, where you are responsible for another life, is
not unlike having a child. You need to think about it a great deal,
because a dog is a great responsibility. When the time is right, you
get a dog. Until that time arrives, be proficient with your cane.

Just thoughts I've had for a while.

Tania Gregory (RPList, San Francisco, California, USA)

**13. “I agree whole-heartedly with your sentiments on this subject. In
fact, I would like to do a comparison with my "reading" methods over the
past ten years.

Up until ten years ago, I could still read regular print with no low
vision aids. However, in 1989, I was having trouble, so I got a "typoscope"
from my optometrist; a "typoscope" is a small black frame, about the size of
a credit card, which "frames" about six words at a time, so you keep moving
it along a line and then, down to the next line.

After a few years, I needed a CCTV, which I got, on loan, from the
CNIB (Canadian National Institute for the Blind). When things got more
difficult, I started using a "screen reader" on my computer and I got a
scanner to "scan" my snail mail onto my computer.

Last spring, I realized that I hadn't really used the CCTV for about
a year, so I returned it to the CNIB. They were very thankful, as they had
another client who needed one by then.

Now that I am using my computer, complete with screen reader and
scanner, I have a system, for "reading," that will work even if I lose all
of my sight.

My point is: different devices work, for us RPers, at different
stages in our RP journey and the same is true for mobility aids. For a long
time, I was able to walk with no mobility aid, although, I now admit, I
should have started using a cane about two years earlier than I did.

A year and a half ago, I got my first cane; it was an "identity"
cane, with no special tip, which is a bit shorter than the next one I got.

A few months later, I got a "mobility" cane, complete with a
mushroom tip; I even tried a roller tip for a while, but I found that the
regular mushroom tip works better for me. I am very happy with this cane and
I have now completed my O and M training, which I started last November.

When I need a "sighted guide," my wife is quite willing to perform
that function. Also, my wife really doesn't like dogs; therefore, as long as
she is willing and able to act as my sighted guide, when I require one, I
will not be looking in that direction.

As Tania pointed out, there are different needs at different times
in our lives, and the day may come, for me, that a guide dog will be a
better option. In short, there are "different strokes for different folks"
and there are different times in our lives for different things.

I am very happy for Lynn, Robert, Bob Gold and others who have found
such fulfillment with their guide dogs, but do remember that everyone's
situation is different and the only thing, about RP, that is constant, is

Just my two cents worth.
Best to all,”

Don Moore (RPList, Rothesay, NB Canada”

FROM ME: “Yet another ‘special need’ is fulfilled, right.”

**14. “I love dogs, and I always have, but my preference for travel is
a cane over a dog. I don't really know if I would feel the same way if I
had no sight at all, but I can see a little, and a guide dog would hinder
rather than help me. This is not, however, to be taken as a blanket
endorsement of cane rather than dogs. This is simply my preference at this

Jesse Johnson (Huntsville, Alabama, USA)

**15. “ Here is my opinion on the thought-PROVOKER. I am a cane user and I always
will be. For those of you who use guide dogs and claim they are faster
than canes, I'll grant you this. I've seen several guide dog users who
travel quite quickly when they are with their dogs. One lady even enjoyed
boasting about how much faster she could walk than those of us who chose to
use canes. Once, she asked if I wanted to go guide dog guide with her. I
did so and she did walk faster than I normally do in an unfamiliar area.
However, despite the fact that the guide dog users I know are fast
travelers, it always strikes me how clumsily they seem to move around when
they are not using the dogs. The dog users I know tend to stumble and
stagger a bit more, sometimes even when they have a dog. Some people have
said they prefer the low maintenance of the cane, and I do agree. But I
do really love dogs and plan to have one as a pet someday when I have my
own house, so that isn't really a factor in my preference of the white
cane. One thing I've heard several people in the discussion mention is
that a dog is a great way to meet people. At one time in my life, I too
considered having a guide dog and part of the appeal is the attention I'd
get from sighted people, particularly women, when I was out with the dog.
Luckily, I outgrew this mode of thinking. The lady who guided me with her
dog admitted that one reason she got the dog was so sighted people would
pay more attention to her. I feel this is a self-esteem issue with her
and it doesn't surprise me that she takes very poor care of her dog.
Other users I've known seem to enjoy their dogs more as status symbols
rather than tools for travel. There are other reasons I prefer the cane
to a dog...the hassle of messes in public places and dealing with the dog
in crowded and cramped areas. But I think the overall reason I prefer the
cane is that it makes me feel truly independent. I feel that with the use
of my cane, I can more easily be aware of my surroundings in a particular
setting. I rely on myself to determine directions and obstacles with the
cane and it is easier for me to detect small details in my traveling. I
know that the choice between a dog and a cane is a personal one and I
certainly don't condemn anyone who chooses to use one. However, the
examples of dog users I've seen are very poor ones and this only serves to
strengthen my own belief that the cane was the right choice for me.”

Ryan Osentowski (Lincoln, Nebraska, USA)

**16. “I use both dog and cane, but mostly the dog. I use a dog because I
usually can travel a good deal faster than I can with a cane, and in some
places (such as around construction) I travel both faster and better.
Then, there are events like the Jethro Tull concert I went to recently,
where I doubt it would have been fair to the dog to take him. And, of
course, the cane doesn't need food, "park time," or appointments with and
medicines from the vet. It also doesn't need a temporary place to stay
when its owner wants or needs to be where someone is allergic to the dog.

I got my first dog in 1979. I made a point to use my cane from time to
time, just to hone my skills. In 1996, my second dog died and I had to
wait over five months to get Adam. I hoped the one good thing about that
quick, painful (to me and the dog) death and the wait after it would be
that I'd refine my cane skills. Strangely, at times, I made more stupid
mistakes with the cane at that time than when using it while I still had
my dog. (Never before, for example, had I crossed the parallel street
instead of the perpendicular one.) As the fall of the year approached,
construction increased notably in the places where I traveled daily, and
travel became quite a chore. By the time of my return to The Seeing Eye
in September, I hated using the damned cane and was almost in ecstasy
about returning to the school.

Adam helps me in ways that a cane can't, but I also learn things I didn't
know along a familiar route when I use a cane there.

Probably like most on this list, I believe it essential for any blind
person who can to have good cane skills. I'd think it wrongful and
custodial for any guide dog school to make that a requirement, both
because no school would know how to judge when one's cane skills are good
enough and because people often can't wait for good cane training before
they need to travel about independently. (For some, that wait would be
longer than their time on earth.) But one can decide much more sensibly
about whether or not to use a guide dog if one's cane skills are good: it
may be a very serious mistake to get a dog only because you think you have
to but wish you didn't--and the dog may suffer much for it.

I stress that I didn't get a dog either for status or as a social
icebreaker. Some good can come of the icebreaking, but I more often find
it a nuisance.

There are some folks who think it's more independent to use a cane, some that
it's more independent to use a dog. Both views are nonsense. In one
sense, both are "tools" of independence, and dogs have served as "tools"
in numerous ways for human beings for hundreds or even thousands of years.
The guide dog is a logical extension of a very time-honored tradition. But
of course, the dog is far more than a tool: in guide work and many other
kinds, it truly is a partner. It is a "tool" that works best when its
owner or user give it love and a certain kind of respect, something we
give to inanimate tools only when we are especially eccentric or when they
remind us of someone we love.

Well, this has come to be a bit of a ramble, so I'll end here. I'm sorry
that too many of the dog users you know seem to you to be poor ones. Of
course, knowing this about them should negate them as a factor in your
decision. I suspect that, though you mentioned them as an influence, they
had little impact on your choice. My wife regards me as a good user, but
she is unlikely to become one herself. (One thing we often have little
fights about is how far apart we get when we're walking someplace. But,
there are advantages to having a cane-and-dog team.)

Take care!”

Al Sten-Clanton

**17. “
Whether one uses a cane or a guide dog is a matter of how one wants to
travel. Also, if one chooses to use a dog, there is the matter of caring
for the dog, and the responsibilities that come with it.

When sighted people travel, some plan out their maps and directions, and
some choose to hit the road and "follow their nose". Some choose an
expensive SUV, while some are happy with a 1975 Malibu.

Travelling with a cane gives detailed information about what's in front of
you. It also depends largely on finding landmarks to get from point A to
point B. Travelling with a dog in my opinion is like flying a jet plane.
Your only concern is getting from point a to point B. What's in between
really doesn't matter.

I have traveled with a cane for several years, and now for the last 4 and
a half years, I have had a guide dog. I don't think I'll ever go back.

Certainly having a dog has its responsibilities, but those become part of
your lifestyle, and the ease of travel and the privileges that come with
owning a dog far outweigh those of owning a fiberglass stick.

I live alone. I have a 110 pound Golden Retriever who is fluffy, blond,
loyal, protective, likes to play, likes to be loved, and is probably my
best friend in this world. And besides all that, he helps me get to work,
go to the store, and anywhere I go, he goes. And besides that, if I forget
where I'm going or get lost, he helps me get back on the right path.

Now, I ask you. Which would you choose?”

Ken Praul (Bell Air, Maryland, USA,

and Guide Dog Dodger

Blazie Engineering Inc.

Tech Support


18. “I've had both and to me it depends on what your circumstances are. I love
dogs in general, any kind of dog and I absolutely couldn't wait to get my
first guide dog. She was an angel too. I got almost all the way through
college with her & then she died of leukemia at the age (5. my next dog
was strong willed, a good worker but not affectionate. that experience
left me with mixed feelings about guide dogs.

the smooth confident way of walking down the street & walking right up to
the door of familiar buildings can't be beat Imo, but airports these days
are worse than zoos & I don't like putting a dog through that. when I go
tandem bike riding or if I’m doing my singer/song writer thing on a stage
I don't know where to leave the dog especially if I’m not in my home city.
Then there are the people who don't want to give u a ride in their car
because your dog might shed on their upholstery.

I’ve often wondered why mobility for the blind hasn't advanced
technologically beyond the cane. I know there are a few things out there
but they're not in general use. The cane seems so crude, so basic to me.
Right now I’m using one with a rolling tip which helps a little. From time
to time I still think about getting another dog but living in a warm
climate with no air conditioning, & not having to go out every day I
haven't done anything as definite as applying to any of the training

Lorie McCloud (Corpus Christi, Texas, USA)

**19. “Well, I suppose the reason I chose the cane is because it was the first tool
I was introduced to, and it has worked just fine for me for more than twenty
years. I really don't have any negative feelings regarding the use of the
dog on a personal level, however, as a cane travel instructor, having had
the opportunity to observe and work with people choosing both methods, I
have a relatively good understanding of the negative and positive aspects of
both the cane and the dog. I want to state up front that I very strongly
ssbelieve that there are persons for whom the dog guide is the most
appropriate choice, and there are also people that could go either way. I
would also state that there are some wrong reasons for wanting a dog, but
before I get into that I want to share some of my experience in having
worked with persons using dogs.

The dog can be very helpful for anyone that has a real difficulty in walking
a straight line, and has tried everything to overcome this problem. It can
also help people that tend to become disoriented when going around an
obstacle or when drifting up or down a driveway. For persons with a hearing
loss the dog can make a real difference when crossing a street or an open
area. Whether those of us that choose to use the long white cane like to
admit it or not, the general public seems to be a little more comfortable
with blind persons who use dog guides than they are with people that use the
cane, which can take some of the social pressure off, and for some people
the dog just gives them that little extra sense of confidence they need to
get out there and travel.

There are also things about using the dog which are not especially
desirable. One of the things I noticed when working with dog guide users is
that because the dog tends to take you around obstacles rather than allowing
you to locate them, you tend to be more isolated from the environment than
someone using the cane. I remember working with a friend of mine from Media
Pennsylvania, who was a long time dog user, but felt that she should sharpen
her cane travel skills. She had lived in Media for many years, and she was
shocked by how many things were there that she had never found before. She
said it was almost like being in a different town. Another issue is regarding
locating specific landmarks. I am not talking about locating general types
of landmarks like doorways, but rather things like mailboxes. Before the
dog will look for these specific landmarks, it has to be shown what to look
for, and therefore, the guide dog user must first locate the landmark or
have someone assist him or her to locate the specific landmark. This is
fine if you are planning to stay within a limited area, but it can be a
problem if you are needing to explore an unfamiliar one. This can also
work in reverse, in that once the dog becomes familiar with a specific
location, it may decide that is where you want to go every time. Another
matter is that of the travelers overall ability and confidence, dogs are very
good at reading people, and if you are not very sure of yourself the dog
will know it. The dog can and will take advantage of this situation, after
all they are just a dog underneath all the training.

The biggest issue I have with dog guides isn't with the dogs, but rather
with the reasons some people choose to get one. The first reason many
people sight is companionship. Well, if you want a companion, I think you
should find a friend or go to a pet store. Companionship is a nice feature
of having a dog guide, but it is hardly a good reason to make such an
important decision. The second reason many people have is a matter of
protection, this is a common concern especially among women. While it is
true in today's world you need to be thinking about this issue, and the
presence of a dog might help to discourage some of the bad guys, you have to
keep in mind that nine tenths of self defense is common sense and knowing
how to take care of yourself. Besides, dog guides are not really intended
for this purpose, even though I believe most would not fail to come to their
master's assistance. Finally, the real issue I have with people choosing a
dog has to do with their belief that it will solve their orientation
problems or save them from going through a good complete course of travel
training. I remember working with a young woman a few years ago that really
did very well when it came to using the cane for walking down the street,
but figuring out routes or maintaining her orientation was a real challenge
for her. She decided that a dog was the solution and wanted to pursue this.
She wanted the companionship, protection, and the ease of getting around
that a dog would give her. I asked her one time a question regarding some
basic orientation information, and based on this and other factors in her
travel training, I was certain the dog would not solve her problem. One
time I asked her, "On a street running north and south, which side of the
street would you stand on to catch a north bound bus?" She responded, "On
the south side." When I pointed out to her that you cannot stand on the
south side of a street running north and south, and that she had a choice of
either east or west, she of course answered incorrectly. She consistently
had similar problems with solving even very basic problems, such as not
being able to determine what would be the correct side of her body to have
traffic on after crossing a street, or knowing when she had veered away from
a busy street that she should be walking along. I counseled her that the
dog would not solve the problems she was having, but she persisted, and did
obtain a dog guide. Well, who do you think gets blamed now every time
something goes wrong? Getting a dog for the right reasons is a good thing,
but for the wrong reasons can be a disaster.

Recently I have had the opportunity to try out a dog, when a couple of
trainers from Kansas Specialty Dog Service came to the Orientation Center
for some training. I wasn't certain what I would experience, but I was
determined to be as objective and as open minded to trying out this
alternative as possible. I must say that overall it was a very positive
experience. I walked with the dog near the center and along some busy
streets. I tried some street crossings, ranging from quiet side streets to
a very busy intersection, and it really went very well. I did not bring
along my cane, so I had to depend on the dog and my own skills. The dog
seemed to be comfortable with me from the start, and I was not nearly as
nervous as I thought I might be. There were a couple of things I didn't
like, such as having to locate curbs and perpendicular sidewalks with my
foot, this seems more than a little awkward to me after years of using a
cane. I also didn't like having to use my extended arm to look for
landmarks, and the fact that if the dog hadn't been trained to find a
specific landmark, it couldn't do it. In spite of these issues, I would say
that I feel a lot more comfortable discussing dog travel with my clients,
and even a little better when someone says that they feel like they should
get a dog. For now I plan to stick with using a cane, and I think my travel
student's would have a legitimate concern if I didn't honestly feel the cane
is superior to using a dog. The same concern I would expect a dog guide
user to have if those responsible for training them to work with their dogs
didn't honestly believe that the dog is superior to using the cane. What it
all really comes down to is that your choice needs to be based on both an
honest desire to have and care for a dog, and a real understanding of what
each travel tool can and cannot do for you. I think that the general public
is very misled in their beliefs about guide dogs, the fact that some of the
larger schools have hundreds of millions of dollars in their trust funds,
and continue to collect more every year from willing contributors, indicates
to me that not only are most people misinformed about the value of dog
guides, and the number of blind people that truly benefit from the use of a
dog, but that the larger schools are doing little or nothing to discourage
these misconceptions. To make matters worse, some of these larger schools
are unwilling to put these funds to any other purpose, and in reality, what
blind people need a lot more than a dog guide, is somewhere to go, to work.
Real jobs, not sheltered workshops, or special programs designed for the
blind, but real jobs that have the opportunity for advancement and
competitive income.”

Jeff Altman (Lincoln, Nebraska, USA)

FROM ME: “What is the significance of the first statement in this response?”

**20. “I think that it is good that a blind person can choose whether having a cane or dog. Some sighted people think that because you are blind, you should
have a dog. I think that a person has enough responsibilities in life. For
me, life is stressful enough without a dog. A dog will put more stress on
me. Plus, I have physical problems that prevent me from walking as far as
they want you to walk.”

Beth Kats (California, USA)

FROM ME: “Yet another special consideration is a factor.”

**21. “I've tried both modes of travel; and frankly, if I was obliged to go into
a lot of unfamiliar areas I'd seriously look at the dog option again.
That relatively new owner's task involving baggies kind of made me put the
idea on hold at present.

A good canine partner, though, is a wonderful thing regardless of any
necessary tasks.”

Max G. Swanson (Blindad)

**22. “I have waited for this one. I know that everyone has their own reasons
for using their method of mobility, but as we all know, there may be
emotions attached to why we made the choice. So here now, I explain my
choice, and the emotions behind it.

In 1996 when I first came to grips with the fact I was blind, I was at
theNational Convention. I had the "standard issue" cane with me. (You
know the aluminum ones) I had only brought it with me, because that what
I was "supposed" to do at a blind convention.
After talking with a very special person that took the time for me at
this convention, I chose to purchase a "straight cane." The reason for
this was a) my cane was too short for me, and b) my friend said that with
a folding cane, I would still have the excuse to "fold up my blindness"
so to speak anytime I wanted, therefore going right back into denial.
That person was right at the time, and even today, I still want to do
that in some situations. At that time, I still considered myself
"sighted," even though I was, (and only worse now) legally blind. I
refused to sink back into "blindness" as something, I was going to have
to endure the rest of my life, I frankly remembered what doctors had said
to me as a child, and decided they were all liars.

The idea of a cane provoked all out anarchy in my family. Acceptance of my
blindness was then, and still is, a no-no within my family.

I married my husband, and took him to his first NFB National Convention.
He accepted me, cane and all, and when he learned our philosophy, he took
it to heart.

He started bugging me, and I call it that, because that's what I
considered it at the time, about getting a guide dog. I already had a
pet, that was his, and I didn't like that idea, so getting a guide was
absolutely out of the question. We argued about it for at least a year,
and finally to just appease him, I started doing the homework.
I filled out applications, not thinking anything would come of it. Well,
maybe I did, to be honest, at that time we were having problems, and I
began to think even a guide dog vacation would be good for me.

I was accepted into Guide Dogs for the Blind in San Rafael CA, for the
September 1998 graduating class. I again, had major misconceptions about
everything. My husband chuckled, because apparently he knew something I
didn't, and he's not blind.

I must admit, the closer the date of departure came, the more excited I
became. So when I got there, and started the training involved, I was in
"high gear."

I hope no one is laughing at this extremely emotional person, but oh
well, I am sure you'll be laughing when you finish this paragraph. Before
"dog day," as it was referred to, I had talked with the instructors about
exactly what kind of dog I wanted. I had some silly requests to most
people, but they were important to me. I did not want a dog with more
than a two syllable name, because I wouldn't want to get stuck in the
middle of the busy intersection where I live yelling a four or even five
syllable name as we were about to get slammed by some suburban driver
who doesn't have the foggiest idea why a blind person walks in this area
in the first place, I mean we are supposed to live in "bad areas" along
with all the other misfits of the city. Also, I wanted no dog that had
the name of ex husband, ex boyfriend etc... Okay, you're rolling on the
floor laughing, but it's true, I actually said these things. I'm kind of
off the wall anyway, but that's even carrying it too far, as I look back
a year later.

The "dog day' arrived, and me being first in the alphabet, I got to hear
about my dog first. I honestly had to hold back the tears, because I had
finally figured out that "Andy" would be the start of a new life for me.
I felt that the first time I picked up the harness, the feeling ran
through me like a religious experience.

Tiring days, many journeys during training, and many days of pain and leg
swelling were to fill my next 27 days. Now, I knew what my husband was
laughing about, oh and did I regret not listening to him about those
exercises. I did however feel as if I was going to please him when Andy
and I got home, as we are a fast team, and my husbands favorite comment
that "the cane slowed me down." I also looked forward to not being stuck
in the chest anymore.

Okay, now Andy and I are alone. I don't regret my decision to go to guide
dog school for many reasons now. These are just a few, but I think you'll
get the idea.
1) Although guide dogs are not trained for security purposes, I sure have
a feeling of security having to travel in certain areas of the city.
2) Andy and I have bonded just like a mother and child do. When that
harness is off, he's my best buddy, and that carries over into our
working relationship as well. I even talk to my dog like he's a human
being, and he listens, confused yes, but he listens
3) I truly now do have independence. I go, come, do as I please, and I enjoy it.
4) I am now working as an activist, along with my other things for a
cause, and for someone who had too much time on her hands before, because
I felt stranded, I sure don't now.
5) I have just discovered that I am in for total sight loss, it's just a
question of when. I remember my husband telling my mother that he wanted
me to be "prepared" if it did happen, and be able to take care of myself.
Now I feel as if I can "when" it happens.

Okay, enough of my babbling, as I said that's my emotional opinion. I
must go and take Andy out for our holiday recreation, and then to the

Reenah Blackwell and "Andy"

(Dayton, Ohio, USA,

GDB class 586

Sept. 1998)

FROM ME: “Emotion as a reason.”

** 23. “I decided not to replace my first dog, who was great, and use a cane because:

I don't want to take the time to take a dog out, to the vet, for extra walks
and so on.

The cane is conveniently stored.

My husband spoils dogs and kids. I figured a new dog would be too confused.
My first dog came before the spouse.”

Patti Chang (NFB-talk)

**24. “Considering that I've been a cane user for years, and only within the last
ten years have I been using a dog, I'd have to definitely say that I like
the fact that the dog is your special buddy, there for you whether you're nice or nasty, :) and always willing to guide you around those fireplugs and
other miscellaneous knee knockers. There are just so many things about
having a dog that I couldn't name them all, but yet, having been a cane
user, sometimes it really is nice to be able to just hang that thing by the
door and forget about it for a while. Even so, I would never go back, I'm
so glad that I made the move I did.”



IS 1 877 786-2539)

**25. “Personally, I would prefer the dog, but I have no real income to support the
animal in any of its costs (food, vet, etc). Otherwise, I would have one.

Anyway, I have become a real adept with the stick!”

Hawke (Blind-issues)

FROM ME: “Money shouldn’t be a reason for a choice of this magnitude. And, I am aware that others seeing this response have answered this gentleman as to where to seek out specialized funding in the USA and services to get and maintain a dog guide. There are service groups who will purchase the animal, some groups that will provide the food and vets that will care for the dog at no cost.”

**26. “Choosing a cane or a dog is, for me, a totally personal choice. I am a good
cane user, I am a good dog handler. I prefer to work with a dog though. I
personally dislike traveling with a cane. I know my reasons are wrong, but
I can't help how I feel. I feel the cane is gropy, clumsy, noisy,
undignified, ungraceful, and for me embarrassing. Furthermore, using a cane
hurts my wrist and arm a lot. I know there are advantages to using a cane,
and sometimes I think about carrying my folding cane and whipping it out
when I am in a strange area that is totally baffling, as one can get a
better idea of landmarks and the like with a cane. Still, I prefer a dog.
The public's attitude towards me with a dog is more positive, if still
erroneous, than it was with a cane. Still, I get very tired of fending the
public off of my dog. In short, it's strictly a personal choice.”

Carol Ashland (Eugene, Organ, USA,


Guide Dog Hawkeye,

and Angel bird, who we now think is a he.

Left click or (Press return on the line below to email me directly.)


FROM ME: “She writes, ‘The public's attitude towards me with a dog is more positive…’ What is and why is this? Yet others say a cane user is seen as ‘doing it for themselves’ and not being taken care of by a dog and this is more positive.”

**27. “Whether to use a dog or a cane is strictly a matter of choice. I have used
both; both worked well for me except that I don't think I ever got to the
point where I trusted my dog as much as I trusted myself. I now use a long
white cane and am happy with it. Whichever choice you make though be the
best you can be with it. Anyone who has poor mobility skills should try to
get better whether you use a dog or a cane. Bad mobility can cost a person
his or her life.”

Joyce Porter (Houston, Texas, USA, )

FROM ME: “I really appreciate this ladies last major comment, ‘Which ever choice you make though be the best you can be with it.’”

**28. “I would say that the choice between a cane and a dog is no different than
choosing the kind of car one would drive, the kind of computer one would
use, what color to paint your house or, any other choice that people would
make in this life full of choices. But, because most of the general public
seems to think that blind people are completely incapable of making those
sorts of every-day decisions, it would seem that one would have to inquire.
It simply comes down to a matter of what works best for the person making
the choice. We could argue the pros and cons of both until "the cows come
home" but, it is simply a matter of personal choice I think.”

Bob Simonson (Omaha, Nebraska, USA, )

**29. “I would simply explain why I prefer a dog guide--as I do; and why hope my
friend would simply explain why he/she preferred the cane, or had not gotten
a dog. No problem there!”

Jessie Rayl (Martinsburg, West Virginia, USA)

**30. “I was visually impaired for several years before using a cane. It was
wonderful when I began using it. I could finally walk with my head up
instead of looking down. I had no peripheral vision due to glaucoma. It was
like I had been set free. It was wonderful for me. but there were places I
refused to go with the cane after I became totally blind. That is I refused
to go without a sight guide. I am a teacher and we have an unusual campus
with a solid concrete courtyard, a catwalk with steel post, lots of cement
flower pots and tables and benches as well as trees. I never ventured into
this area with a cane. Then in July of 1998 I went to leader dog and
returned home with brook, a petite yellow lab. How my life has changed. I
go anywhere on the campus I want to go. Of course, I could not do that in
the beginning. She had to be patterned to the routes. I was told it would
be very difficult because of all the steel post and they are not in a
straight line, but turn and curve where the catwalk used to be. It took
about a month of sight guiding her on the routes and then she was wonderful.
I thought the cane made me feel free, but the dog did so even more.
Another thing I enjoy with the dog is the fact that we can walk for exercise
at a very brisk pace. She likes to walk fast and I found out that I do too.
I thought I was a slow mover as I had always been cautious when using the
cane, but found out that I really do enjoy walking fast. Many of my friends
say we go to fast. That seems strange to me as I am 58 years old and
walk faster now than when I was young. So my preference is the dog. She
does take a lot of care which I do not mind at all. Her food is rather
expensive. She has had several medical problems which the local lions club
has paid all of her vet bills. I am so grateful for that. Thought I would
give my opinion. Of course I think it is a very personal thing. I do not
believe that anyone who does not wish to make a complete commitment to
caring for the dog should get one because they are a lot of work in both
the training, the work, and the care.”

Pat mair (Blind-issues)

**31. "I like dogs, but not in my work place. I use a cane to travel anywhere and everywhere. I have a dog for fun and companionship."

Robert Neilson (USA)

**32. “As a totally blind person, I have often been abused up hill and down dale
for not having a dog guide. "They are so wonderful," people say. "How
could you not have one?"

My response to this is, "Well, you don't have to feed a cane!"

On a more serious note, it becomes a bit of a problem when two blind people
with dogs decide they want to get the same taxi. There is genuinely a
problem fitting everyone in unless they order a station wagon. I was
talking to the cab driver involved and he was genuinely sorry he couldn't
take the fare? One dog at once is fine.

Jann Rutherford (Sydney, Australia, )

**33. “I prefer not to be lead by man nor beast. With my cane and my brain (as I have heard this phrase used in this forum before) I can travel whereever I need to go. That means I’m not shy about asking for information and/or assistance when needed.”

Bill McCallister (USA)

**34. “I once had a Dog and really enjoyed having him. I feel if I was in a job
where I had to walk a lot I would get a dog. I really enjoyed the fact that
I could get through many people with out hitting there legs.
I am a fast walker, and when I had the dog it enabled me to travel much
faster then with a cane.

On the other hand a cane is a very low maintenance thing. If you do not want
to use it you can stick it in the corner and never have to worry about
feeding/brushing it. If I had a job where I was sitting a lot of the time,
and would feel for the dog and I feel that dogs are made to get up and move
around and not lie in one place doing nothing.”

Reinhard Stendner (NFB-talk)

FROM ME: “With a dog he is faster>… we have heard this one several times before.”

**35. “Hmm, what a good thought. I am thinking about getting a dog guide soon
after I graduate from high school. I have some much needed cane skills, but
yet, I think I'd want a dog for protection on a college campus and out in
society. I'm not so worried about that in school.”

Stacy (Wisconsin, USA)

FROM ME: “A dog, for protection.”

**36. “I have used both, and feel that I can say that in a lot of ways the dog was
quite a handy and fun friend to have and I am sure that those of you who
are using dog guides can relate to many of the stories that I could tell
about the dog in stores and being shown things that you wouldn't ordinarily
see; for example, my dog would always find the "sale signs" and loved to
window shop. He even read my mind and before I knew it, I was where I was
just thinking I might tell him that I'd like to get to a particular place.
However, I find it quite difficult to socialize with the dog and the
constant interruptions while traveling from the public to comment on the
dog, people not wanting the dog in their cars, homes, and I couldn't even
bring my dog in the local synagogue. I realize that while this is a public
place, and so on... it is very hard especially when you live in a place
where there is very limited public transit, no side walks, and people not
wanting the dog in their cars. It is very hard on the dog to always travel
in grassy paths where there are almost always foxtails and the like. I
have kept the equipment in the event that I live in an area that I would
like to try this mode of travel again, but I am thinking that it is
unlikely, as I do enjoy getting from place to place without being
interrupted and yes, the people sneaking food to the dog too is a problem.”

Renee Michele Zelickson (Huntsville, Alabama, USA,

Legislative Secretary - NFB of Alabama


FROM ME: “My thought is, what is a positive for one, is a negative for another.”

**37. “I started out with a cane at age fourteen. I have never tried a dog.
Presently, I am allergic to dogs so a dog wouldn't be an option. I find
that my cane will let me travel anywhere whereas a dog guide will cause
problems if you try to take it abroad. I also don't want the hassles of
having a dog, so I have decided to stick with a cane. When I talk to
another blind person about travel options, I usually say that you must be
a good cane traveler before you get a dog and then refer them to friends
who are good dog guide users.”

Robert Jaquiss

(robertj@teleport.COM Public Access User ---
Public Access UNIX and Internet at (503) 220-**1016 (2400-14400, N81)

FROM ME; “Seeing it as not being for you, yet supportive of it to others if that is what they choose.”

**38. “I would tell the person that I either prefer the cane because the dog is too
much work or I might say that I have more freedom with the dog. I would use
it as an opportunity to educate the person about either one. I use a cane
and one of my sighted friends had many questions on how it worked that I
thought were very obvious. We sometimes assume that people who are sighted
have more information then they might have. We must be gracious and be good
ambassadors for ourselves. This will help open doors for others and
increase the perception that we are competent.”

Catherine Alfieri (7 Summer Tree

Pittsford, Maryland, USA. 14534)

FROM ME: “Either method, a chance to educate. Sounds good to me!”

**39. “I believe that it is strictly a subjective choice. When I started
losing my vision I trained with a dog. She became too old to work, so I
retired her at 13 years and started using a cane. There are advantages
with both.

A cane is low maintenance. You don't have to feed, water or take it out
and folding canes are small and compact for when or if you don't need

On the other hand, my choice would always be a dog guide. Mostly because
they will lead you around any obstacle in your path, so if an unobservant
or ignorant person will not move, the dog will.
Aside from that they are a wonderful companion and a great icebreaker in
what could otherwise be an awkward social or professional situation. Most
people really like dogs, but you have to decide things like if you will
allow others to pet your dog and your response when they ask.
Lastly, being a woman, I considered a dog a huge advantage as far as
safety. After having my dog just a few months she would bark at anyone
that jumped at me quickly and tried to grab me. This wasn't something she
was trained to do, but as they become attached to their owners they also
become protective. It caused a few of my well-meaning but practical joke
playing friends some serious heart palps a couple of times, but it made me
feel much more secure.

I have many friends who use canes and wouldn't trade them for the world.
They never get sick. They can fit anywhere and they do allow you to know
and feel your environment much better than being led by anyone or
anything. These people also feel that they give them more of a sense of

Really in the end it is up to the individual.

My preference is obvious, but trying both is highly suggestible. As I've
said I believe I'll eventually get another dog, but for now I am still
using a cane for now.”

Kim Estevez (RPlist)

**40. “I have been using a cane now for over ten years. Before I learned to
Use the cane, I was walking without any mobility aides at all. Now,
Even though my vision has not changed, I wonder how I ever got along
without it. I guess basically, I just use it as a security blanket.

I have considered getting a guide dog but for two reasons, I decided
against it. First of all, my dad has an Irish setter, Maud, whom I
love to spoil rotten. Of course, you can't do that with a guide dog.
I don't think I could bring myself to impose such limitations as how
much a dog eats and how often a dog can play.

I'm not saying that guide dog owners are cruel to their dogs. I have
met several dog users who have wonderful working relationships with
their dogs. I'm just saying that I'd be more likely to allow the dog
to play more often than is allowed and to give the dog a lot of
sweets, as well as table scraps. Besides, even though I don't live
with my dad, I see Maud frequently and I'm afraid that her
Disobedient manner may be a negative influence on any guide dog of

My other reason for choosing a cane over a guide dog is that most of
The dog users I have met seem to have less vision than i do.
Therefore, they probably need the dogs more than I do.

The decision to use a cane or to use a dog basically depends on
one's own personal preference. Guide dogs are wonderful mobility
aides for people who need them. However, I've grown used to using a cane and so for that reason and the other reasons I've mentioned
above, I think I'll just stick with that.”

Abbie Johnson (Sheridan, Wyoming, USA, abbie@wavecome.met)

**41. “I use a cane but know many with guide dogs. I find my cane works well for me overall. I enjoy it's low maintenance operating style. I do sometimes wish I had a dog when I traverse large parking lots and other large open areas, however. I also like the fact that with a cane I'm more apt to be able to get directions because of the prevailing myths about dogs knowing where the traveler wants to go. I think I'd enjoy a dog for it's companionship value and their were times as a social worker that I kind of wished I had a dog because maybe people would fear me a
little. Although I don't think a dog would stop a serious attacker
because they'd just disable the animal.”

Albert Griffith

**42. “To take a step without knowing where you are and whether or not you are safe to go there is for me the most frightening part of being blind. In my earlier years, I had been told to not get a hard lick on my head for fear that doing so would cause me to lose the sight I had. Afterwards when my sight was virtually gone, moving about was a most frightful event which I chose to avoid whenever
possible. Living in a rural area, my rehabilitation on mobility was to say the least insufficient. An opportunity came for me to go to a Rehabilitation Center
for a period of three weeks. The only mobility training which I received was basically reviewing how to walk with a sighted guide which my wonderful husband
had figured out without any rehabilitation assistance. It dawned on me that the
only way I could get any independence was to get out and start waving my cane.
I did receive the basic tips but time did not allow for advanced training with
the cane. During the following three years, I relied on my sighted guides. I
have been blessed with three helpful daughters. I heard of the Seeing Eye in
Morristown, N. J. My mind told me if there was any chance of being independent
in my small town that I should get a guide dog. In the fall of 1997, I was
Partnered up with Sharon, a German Shepherd. I had had all of the sighted
guides I wanted for a while. If, however, I had known all the emotions that
went along with adjustment to a guide dog, I wonder if I would have made that
decision. This is not a complaint. I love the freedom of being able to go for
a walked briskly up the road without having to take such fearful steps. Sharon is
my best friend. We have gone through a lot together and I know there will be
more things ahead for us to face. Just the thought of knowing that there is
someone close by who loves you sure makes days go by so much easier. Especially
when you don't feel that other things around you are right. Either the use of
the cane or the guide dog is strictly a choice of the person who uses either. I
personally am so glad I chose my guide dog!”

Deborah Hill

FROM ME: “ A dog for rural travel. Anyone else with a differing experience? I’ve known one gentleman who preferred taking care of the chores using a hoe handle. It was stout enough to poke the hogs with effect and he just left it in the barn at night and didn’t have to worry about cleaning it up.”

**43. “At one time I had thought about getting a dog guide.
I am an animal lover myself but I personally do not like big dogs in my house.
Big dogs are costly, a lot of work and responsibility.
The cane works better for me and my situation.

In my opinion, every ones needs and situations are different.
I think as long as the dog or the cane helps the person achieve their
greater independence, that is what is important.

I do not think either one is any better than the other.
What's important,

Remember! its the user that performs the technique that brings him or her
their success.
Not the tool or the so-called technology. Having good training and hands on
practical experience we can implement this in our every day lives.”

Donna Rogalski (Belleview, Florida, USA)

**44. “I kind of had to laugh at this one. In the aspect of two people getting
tired out from walking. I'm an avid walker. That being I try to get at
least five miles in a day and sometimes get up to 10 miles a day To which
weekends that is more than likely to happen. That being no matter what the
weather is. Of course if there is lots of ice or down poring forget it.

I have been in both shoes of using a cane and now with my guide dog, Bowie.
I felt very comfortable in using a cane going back and forth to work, but
there were times people not knowing what a white cane with a red trim was.
So, had to work my way around. It wasn't until my brother Lee started
Talking to myself about guide dogs; that I took an interest in them. Now,
that I have Bowie I wouldn't know what to do with out him. For several
reasons: a companion - being single, continue training a smart guide dog
that works well in crowds, construction sites, low lying objects or a door
way I may not pick up as fast as he does. Bowie's working relationship
with the public in two factors of knowing in most cases I'm blind and the
other opens the door for communication on who is getting who to work or
Whatever place I'm going. I have to say also, that Bowie has added to
myself being able to go in other areas I didn't want to before with just
the cane. So, I would say it's up to the person who he or she wants a cane
or guide dog. With many of the people that I talk to now it seems that
guide dogs are becoming the in thing to do. Even, though there is a lot of
work in grooming, vets, feeding and right diet, exercise and finally
working with the guide dog Like Bowie, on Commands I wouldn't trade him for anything now A strong bond and strong love for each other. Anxious to
hear what other people have to say on this subject. Great one Mr. Newman!”

Gene F. Stone (Portland, Maine, USA

FROM ME: “The man says, a dog takes extra work, but is worth it.”

**45. “I have started this three times and now will finish it. to tell the whole
story is to long but I have used both a cane and a dog . My preference at
this time is still with a dog. I do much better in all of my traveling as I
am not comfortable with a cane. I move to fast and always have. a cane
training two times did not make a difference for me. However I will say last
year I buried my first Dog guide, Murphy , and hope not to have to do it
again. My dog now, Ockham is only four and a half years old so he should be
around for awhile. all of us make tough choices in life and using a dog is a
strong decision once the thought crosses ones mind. Being with that dog
day and night through sickness and health until death we do part. Even
though for some of us the dog is a big responsibility and gives us so much
extra freedom, we must remember. they are a part of us in so many ways. the
pat on the head and the bowl of food starts the day but somewhere down the
road he/she will need so much more. We as Dog guide users take on a new
family member with a sense of pride and another look of being Independent
in so many ways, but for many blind folks they still prefer a cane. to
each his own. I have asked my cane using friends about dogs and all have
their own reasons why they would not consider it. everything from" I lost a
dog once and never again" to " I cannot keep up the pace with the extra
bills involved." I respect the decision we all make and best wishes to any
" new kids on the blocks, nation or worldwide".

Lee A. Stone (Hudson, New York, USA

FROM ME: (This gentleman points up a sensitive factor- Death of this family member is at times a reality to be dealt with.”

By Lisa L. Mauldin

I settled onto the common lounge couch with a sigh. I was tired, but in a good, satisfied sort of way. In those few minutes between afternoon park time and the call for dinner, all was unusually quiet, and while I could hear activity in the distance, my dog and I were alone in the lounge. For the first time since we had returned to the Seeing Eye at mid-afternoon, my mind began to wander over the events of the day.

Around ten o’clock that morning, my instructor and I had joined another instructor and two members of his class, and - along with our three dogs - we headed for New York City. Manhattan…”The Big Apple”…known locally as “The City,” as if no other city existed on the face of the Earth…the self-appointed center of the universe… I had always loved the City when I lived in Jersey, and I never passed up an opportunity to make the trip. The plays and the restaurants, the parades and the concerts, the deli’s and bakeries, the shops in the village…Little Italy and China Town - so close to each other, and yet worlds apart. I had loved it all, and yet as much as I had relished the visit, I had always experienced a sigh of relief when we were again headed west toward home. For all of its attractions and excitements, New York could never replace that quiet cup of coffee at sunrise on the patio with the birds bursting forth with the first song of the day.

The trip that morning had been an especially pleasant surprise. Even though it had been more than five years since I had visited the Big Apple, I had told my instructor that it was certainly not necessary for me to go this time. With five remaining students, I knew it would be somewhat of a juggling act to get all of us into the City, and in my case, my present home environment of Dothan, Alabama, hardly justified any undue inconvenience to anyone. The heat index had topped 105 degrees the previous day when the first two students from our class had visited the City, and I knew that two of we three remaining students had already declared that they would not be interested in making the trip in such heat. The forecast for Tuesday was unchanged, and I had assumed that there would be no second trip for just one student. That would mean that the instructor would have to work two additional afternoon trips in Morristown after he had returned from New York with me. Thankfully, I was wrong. Late Monday afternoon, my instructor informed me that he and I would be joining another group, and I should be ready to leave around 9:30 the next morning.

The drive into the City was uneventful. The post-rush hour traffic was heavy, but moved smoothly. We laughed and joked easily, and before we knew it, we had parked at the Port Authority. As the van door slid open, there was no doubt where we were. The smells and the sounds and the electrically charged atmosphere all melded together as if to announce, “You’re Here!” For once, in that rarity of rarities, the weatherman had been right on the money, for the sun baked asphalt of the parking lot radiated waves of intense heat as we stepped from the van. The movement of my dog brought my attention back to the common lounge, and as she lay her muzzle across my knee, I began to stroke the silken head and alert ears. Without warning, my eyes filled with tears which rapidly overflowed their banks to run unbidden down my cheeks.

This slight little creature had guided me flawlessly down crowded steps, and fearlessly, yet cautiously onto subways. This silken haired wonder had threaded her way through human packed sidewalks, around signposts and trashcans, and obstacles of every conceivable nature - and more than a few obstacles inconceivable everywhere except New York. Over metal utility covers and basement doors, around subway grates and construction barricades, she had zigged this way and that. My child-loving/dog-loving social butterfly shepherd had sailed past baby-filled strollers and boxers on leash with barely a flicker of interest. My petite little partner had moved into pedestrian covered corners, braving car horns, starting motorcycles, and screaming fire trucks echoing through the man-made caverns of high rise buildings. My nineteen month old pup had tackled Manhattan like a true professional veteran, and I was overcome with emotion that so much intelligence, character, personality, courage, and heart could be packed into a mere fifty-one pounds of canine flesh.

The intercom came to life announcing dinner, and I sighed with satisfaction as I stood to my feet and took up the harness handle. Wiping my tears on my sleeve, I smiled to myself. “Champagne, Forward,” I commanded.

While I know in the long run the “nay-sayers” might argue that we only traveled an eight-block area of the Big Apple - and that much is true, but in my heart of hearts I will not soon forget how my sip of Champagne conquered a thin slice of apple.”

Lisa Mauldin (Dothan, Georgia, USA)

**47. “Wow! I have so much to add concerning this topic. I chose a dog because I live in a rural area. He does not get caught in grass; is great for crossing fields when necessary; and, best of all, he has learned to guide me and a horse, goat, sheep or individual when I was employed to teach the developmentally disabled. The dog has taken my unpredictable life and, with his gentle paws, pushed over many obstacles.

Unfortunately, having a dog has a down side. We are experiencing one right now. Last week, the vet called to inform me that tests showed terminal cancer. Tomorrow, we travel to Michigan State to obtain a full evaluation. I am praying that he may be able to continue working and living with our family a while longer. Another down side is when people assume that the dog takes care of my every need. He gets me up in the morning, coordinates my clothing, prepares breakfast and tucks me into bed at night. These people, thankfully, are in the minority; however, they seem to pop up at the worst times. A mother in the store announcing to her young children that "that dog helps that lady see. He is specially trained to take care of her." How irritating! Not only is her information fascinating, to say the least, but she has reduced me to an item on display. So far I have just ignored them since a public place is not appropriate for a confrontation.

Thank you for the opportunity to vent to those who may understand. I still believe that the benefits of using a dog guide far outweigh the advantages of traveling with a cane. Depending on the environment, others may find a cane to be the best choice.”

Marcia Beare (Martin, Michigan, USA,


from me: “Environment.”

**48. “I can't speak from experience concerning dogs since I've never had one.
Currently, I use a white cane. I plan to have a dog in the future. But,
right now, I have a furry one to take care of who is a retired seeing eye
dog and until I lose him, I don't want to be responsible for two dogs.

There are advantages to both. But you still have to use your own judgment
for both when traveling. You can just put a cane in a corner and not worry
about it and people won't worry about getting dog hair in their vehicles
when you ride with them. But, you don't get much companionship with a cane
and on a not-so-safe corner, I, as a woman, would feel more secure with a
good-sized dog around. Note (you don't have to clean up doggie doo) either.”

Marcie Brink (Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA,

FROM ME: “She points out a reoccurring theme that is important- ‘There are advantages to both. But you still have to use your own judgment for both when traveling.’ What do you think?”

**49. “I believe the difference to be due to taste, some people just don't care for
dogs, some people have a problem with hair, some people love the devotion
and love they receive from a dog. I have my dog so I can run, hike, camp,
etc. I believe I can do this with a dog and I have. It is purely a matter of
choice. Some upon deciding to obtain a dog, must make a choice of working
with that dog 24 hours a day, seven days a week, Many find this too much of
a burden or not their kind of thing. Others find a cane very dependable and
it never runs away, or chase's squirrels. Its like a car, do I want a ford
or a chevy? Do I want a cane or a dog? One tool requires more time and
money, but has a high return also. Its just a matter of choice.”

Mike Wardin (Columbia, Missouri, USA,

**50. “I have a lot of opinions on this one. Hee. I am attending the Louisiana
Center for the Blind right now. There is a situation developing here right
now. dogs are forbidden during training. A student came with the
understanding that he could keep his dog for his free time. Not! He must
warehouse his dog around the clock. Lots to discuss about that, but I
digress. Another ex-student is here with his dog and he is allowed to keep
his with him during his short brush-up stay here. so, in one room, a
student is without his dog and in another, the guy is keeping his. Hmm. I
understand the policy here is that one needs to know cane travel before one
gets a dog and in various situations where it is not safe for the dog to go
along, so cane travel is more basic. But it is one's choice.”

Pam McVeigh (Ruston, Louisiana, USA)

FROM ME: “We would need to hear from a staff person from that center to learn the rationale for the policy. But good orientation/cane skills prior to taking on a dog guide, yes, I’ve heard that; what do you think?”

**51. “I use both a dog and a cane and find it works great for me. There are two
additional reasons not mentioned that keep me leaning towards my dog. One
is that the tap, tap, tap of the cane drives me nuts. I also feel the sound
draws attention and pity my way. I feel I present a more capable appearance
when using my dog. My husband prefers me to use the dog as it gives him
additional freedom. He does not have to be a sighted guide in unfamiliar
places. Even though he has never complained, it is very tiring to do so for
long periods of time. I do leave my dog at home when I'm doing heavy-duty
power shopping or going to really crowded places like Vegas, etc. Yes, a
dog is extra work but for me it is a labor of love.”

Linda (Oregon, USA, )

FROM ME: “The ‘TAP’ of a cane drives her nuts! And her husband feels more comfortable when she’s out traveling alone and with her dog guide.”

**52. “Hi to all, Stacy here. Well, I think I'd like a dog guide for a companion,
but for work as well. I know of two people for sure who both got dogs from
Seeing Eye. They both like them, and one of the people has a family. The
entire family also loves the dog to death. On the other hand, I attended a
workshop with my mother two summers ago, and I got on the topic with another
blind person (an adult) while we were getting a meal. She wasn't so happy
with the decision I was pursuing, but that isn't stopping me.”

Stacy (mail to: )

FROM ME: “When should we listen to others?”

**53. “I wanted to write back after listening to all the great imput on this issue
of cane VS. working dog/guide dog. There are some things that I have to say
in having a guide dog VS. cane. When, a person says you can have the
knowledge of where you are with a cane and not with a guide dog, have a
better understanding of the area and items that might be in the way a cane
is better, and other items that were mention in all the replies.
As noting in my last input; I used a cane for many years and was very good
with it in my travels. That, being living here in the city of Portland,
I have to note here that the side walks in the city are bricks for the most
part and some of them are cobble stone and few are cement side walks
I have found that using Bowie I still have no problem in getting around in
the city. My last job was at the other end of the city. for the most part
we walk to work and always took a different route so Bowie wouldn't get use
to one route. Then, in going back to school it was the same thing and even at my new job we do the same thing. This keeps Bowie on his toes and
including myself for knowing where I want to go.
As for travel in cabs, buses and other peoples cars I have never run into
the problems with what was mentioned. In fact our one cab company (out of
many) that I used on rainy days was very good in taking two guide dogs.
So, I don't know if that is because this is Maine or what. As for getting
into places I've never had a problem in getting into any place: from
restaurants, hospitals, senior citizens homes, schools, doctors' office,
work, post office or any place that I've been so far; including hotels.
Again that could be it's Maine and their accepting the need for the use of
a well trained guide dog. Even in my travels to see my friends and family
in other states.

For my brother's (Lee Stone) imput for a care of a dog and the love you
have for a guide/dog off duty. that is very true. When, Bowie gets sick
it's like a member of the family and you can feel the pain and you want to
do everything you can to make him /her better not because they are a
working dog. Instead because of the bond and love you have with your dog.
After a long day of working whether sitting in an office and getting you
different places in the office building or just out walking. When, your
home and he/she is out of harness he/she is just a dog and it’s relaxing
time. Time to play and enjoy you and the family if that is the case.
I strongly believe that in all my travels through the city and in the
city parks that I don't lack for knowing what is around myself. Yes, there
are times when I call on my friend, Mike Adams, for special advice in how to
get from one place to another. That is because of my care for the guide
dog and myself. Or the same with having just someone on the street in
stopping and saying could you tell me where a certain place of business is.
After all we don't know the complete lay out of the city and stores do
change. As the same when I go walking with Bowie down by the Casco Bay on
the path way; it gives us a change in lay out, type of path way and inter
reaction with many different types of dogs in behavior. Along, with Mother
Nature of low hanging tree limbs and bushes and rail tracks of our narrow
gage train for the tourist. So, it is my feeling that one can be aware of
what is under foot and around him and her.
The key is keeping the working dog in shape and up dated on his/her
commands to continue being that fine working tool; yet having time to play
as a dog. The only thing that makes me mad is that people taking advantage
of feeding the dog when you tell them over and over again not to feed the
guide dog as he/she is on a special diet. Explain to them why he/she is on
that special diet and yet they go ahead any way and feed him. Then you’re left to deal with it As I'm dealing with my Bowie now from a Lions
convention. So that part is a continuing education to the general
population. In no way though would I trade my Bowie in and take my cane out
of the closet. Even though I do on certain occasions to stay in touch.
We all have a choice and should respect each other for their choice in what
they have to get themselves back and forth to work, shopping, travel to
where ever and being out in the world. Let us be happy with what our choice
is and be proud. Remember the main purpose of a guide dog is not to be a
guard dog but a working tool while working to get you safely there and back
home. Then, it's time for our dogs to be just that dogs so they too can
wind down at the end of a busy day of working hard for us. Unlike a cane
you put in the corner or closet. Last input here is that yes it's hard to own a guide dog in ourselves
feeding, bathroom on a rainy day or cold, walking for the exercise of the
dog and ourselves in the rain, snow or hot/cold day, but I can tell you in
having Bowie for two years I wouldn't trade him for a million bucks. Thank
you Lee for convincing myself in getting a fine-tuned working guide dog and
a loving partner. That is all I have to say Thanks”

Gene Stone (Portland, Maine, USA, )

**54. “I do envy those who are so proficient at using a cane. However, I'm not one of them. Oh, I can get around okay, but I tend to walk very fast and just cannot get used to slowing down a bit. I know that there are some cane users that can just zip right along, and I didn't poke along either, but with my guide dog, I just feel so much more competent. I was not blind from birth. I slowly lost my sight over a period of many years. Therefore, I suppose I never learned how to be an expert with the cane. There is another reason too. When I began college, the first semester I was using my cane. No one spoke to me. I think that it wasn't because they didn't want to, but because they didn't know how to begin. Since I got my dog, everyone talks to me. The dog is a great icebreaker. They can always begin a conversation with, "what a beautiful dog you have". I can't imagine being without my dog.”

Elaine Morgan (Hollywood, Florida, USA)

**55. “I think the cane vs. dog really is mainly a matter of personal
preference. I know some cane users who have never used a dog tend to
look down on dog users, but I don't really know if it goes the other way
or not. My preference has been to use a cane because I don't have the
extra expense and responsibility, and I don't have to deal with anyone
except the airlines in public establishments blowing away when I carry a
cane. I think my biggest problems with having a dog guide would be (1) I
wouldn't like it when people talk to the dog and not to me; (2) I
wouldn't like it when people act like the dog takes me around, knows all
the routes, etc., with no consideration that the blind person directs the
dog where to go; and (3) probably the most important, I am such an animal
lover that it would probably be impossible for me not to treat a sweet
doggy as a dear pet and member of my family instead of just a worker.
Now if they had guide cats, that might be another matter. But they'd
probably have to be pretty big. I wonder it they could train one of
these cougars around here that are cattin' around in them thar hills.
And that's all.”

Laurie Meryfield (Washington, USA)

**56. “"I saw this and just had to respond to it. I have been blind since the age
of 4 months, and began using a cane and receiving mobility training at the
age of 5 or 6, all the way up through high school. I became a good cane
traveler, and liked it, but I have always loved dogs, and had an interest
in getting one. My mobility instructors told me that they thought I would
be good with a dog, and so, in the summer between my graduation from high
school and first year in college, I went to get my dog.

Here was my first grave mistake. I should not have gotten the dog at the
very beginning of college, when so many things in my life were changing at
once. (If there is anyone out there at that age weighing this decision, I
would advise them to wait at least till after the first year.) I considered
all the pros and cons to the best of my ability at the time, but it's hard
to consider things you may not even know will become issues. I found that
I could walk much faster with my dog than with the cane, that it was a
social icebreaker. However, I quickly learned the disadvantages...I no
longer had the tactile contact with the environment that I was used to, and
though the dog could start as a social positive, it became a negative.
Trying to fit a dog in to small cars, the shedding, and, as has already
been said, feeling as if you have a two-year-old with you constantly. I
didn't mind the daily responsibilities of feeding, taking outside and
grooming...I'd been raised with dogs, and had been well prepared for those

The turning point for me came the day my dog was sick, and so I left him in
the dorm, walking out on campus for the first time that year with just my
cane. For the first time in my life, I felt nervous about just having the
cane. I realized I'd started to become dependent on the dog, and not so
much on my own skills. Since I want to be as independent as possible in
travel, this didn't please me. I used both cane and dog for a few weeks,
and eventually returned my dog to the school. Like the woman in **6, I too
felt quite guilty about returning the dog, especially because of the hard
time I received from friends who were guide dog users. However, I am still
confident that the cane is the best mode of travel for me. I agree with
whoever it was that said trying to learn an area with a cane after a dog is
a whole new thing...I found things on campus I'd never known were there.

I am not totally closed off to the idea of ever trying a dog again, but at
this point, I seriously doubt I will. I personally prefer the cane
because I have contact with my environment, depend on my own skills as a
traveler, and don't feel tied down with having to worry about what
accommodations I need to make for my dog in any given situation. However,
more power to those who have dogs, and find it the best thing for them."

Alicia Richards (Lincoln, Illinois, USA, )

FROM ME: “The cane as a choice that brings her more independence.”

**57. “Seems to me that we are basically on the same topic. I have known many
folks who have not had the opportunity to have appropriate cane training who
owned dogs. There overall mobility, though no doubt better for them, was
not, for the most part, as well developed as those who had "proper" cane

I had the good fortune to have excellent cane training, ad in fact traveled
independently through my hometown, country, and abroad before getting my
first dog. All my dogs have only enhanced my freedom. I almost never got
the first dog, having been good friends with a fellow who was the first in
our city to have a Dog Guide and even with my white cane, I was constantly
losing him, giving him directions, etc. Of course, even with either
excellent cane or dog training, there is still the ability of the individual
to consider.”

Doug Parisian


302 - 960 Portage Avenue

Winnipeg, MB

R3G 0R4

Voice Phone: (204) 775-1789

Toll Free: 1-800-722-6825 (1-800-SCANTALK

Fax/Modem: (204) 783-0055

Email: )

**58. “I’m a person who really has two left feet. Directions are hard for me. Since I’ve had a dog guide I’ve done better. Sure I still make some mistakes, but its better. I think some people do well by themselves and some of us need help. But the master has to do their part good enough or the whole thing doesn’t work. Example is a friend of mine who also had a bad sense of direction and got lost allot. A dog didn’t help her because she still told the dog to do the wrong moves and both of them got lost. And another friend tried a dog and it didn’t work for her because she didn’t work the dog and it got lazy and that was it. So I think some of us need a dog for help because we can’t do it alone. That is a good reason I think.”

FROM ME: “’A help.’ What I read as a tool that makes a clear difference between travel independence and non-independence.”

**59. “My sister tried a dog and it didn’t work for her and I know why. She didn’t exercise the dog and its skills. It became a pet and wanted to be lead and didn’t want to lead. I might try one some day, but I’m not ready. But reading this list tells me that when I am it’ll be good, because I’ll make it work.”

Brad Anderson (USA)

**60. “I’m partially sighted and I use a dog guide. I have very poor depth perception and have always fallen off curbs and run into obstacles. I also can only see out of my left eye and additionally had problems running into things on my right side. Since I’ve had the dog I don’t have these problems. Also, like many others in this forum have stated, the public now are more friendly because they all like dogs, too!

One thing I will point out, is for those of us who have partial vision and use a dog, there is the question we get, often, “You can see, why use a dog?” I explain to them about my vision and my problem with it and describe how the dog helps.”

Nancy Bing (Woodstock, Illinois, USA)

FROM ME: “What is the percentage of dog users are partially sighted? Do cane users who are partially sighted also get questioned as to why they are using a cane? (Excuse me, I know they can be questioned.)”

Hello everyone!

**61. “I have to respond to **59. I am just beginning my cane training, and have
discussed the use of a dog guide with my mobility instructor. I was
concerned about this very same scenario of making a dog guide lazy.

I cannot take public transportation to work because my county keeps blocking
efforts to extend rail and bus lines out of Atlanta. So, my wife drops me
off at the office in the morning and picks me up in the evenings. When she
is tied up, I usually ride with a friend who lives in my area and works at
my office. While in the office, I am able to navigate pretty well, since I
am still partially sighted and the corridors are well lit. I do use a cane
at work when I have to go outside my department so that people are aware
that I might not see them. Also, I use a cane outdoors or in unfamiliar

I would probably use a dog guide for things like running errands, or on
weekends during social activities. I just don't think that I could work the
dog enough to keep him sharp. I might reconsider this issue if/when my
vision decreases further, since I could rely on the dog more for day-to-day

I would be curious to hear anyone else's experiences with this problem.”

David Thurmond (Atlanta, Georgia, USA)

**62. “We have enjoyed this thought provoker very much. Pat has only had cane
travel, but our daughter got a guide dog after being at college one year.
The dog did not work for her because she had too much vision. The dog
found that out and decided that she didn't need the help and soon didn't
cooperate. Thinking it may just be the dog, she traded it in for another
one. The same thing happened. So she is has gone back to the cane since
she has enough sight that she doesn't even need it all the time. We had a
friend who used a dog and she was very dependent on it. She outlived two
dogs and her third dog ended up outliving her. Because of the dependence
on the dog, and the dog making mistakes, this lady was hurt several times.
The last time, she died. It makes us feel that it is too risky to rely on
a dog instead of a cane. A man held open the door for her as she was
leaving the post office, but he never said a word to her. It had steps that
started right at the threshold. She thought the dog would stop at the
door, not knowing it was open. She stepped out and fell down the marble
steps. It broke her hip and did internal injuries. She lived two weeks.
In between dogs she was virtually home bound.
We very much loved the response to #20. He said that some of the money
going to these dog schools should go to making real jobs for the blind.
Halleluah!!!! We salute you for that comment! There are so few real jobs
that make a real living for the totally blind that it is a sad problem. So
many schools say, "Come here and we will train you to go back into the work
force." They do a great job of training you for everyday living. The
mobility training, cooking, etc. is great, but it doesn't put money in the

Pat and Rory Conrad (Dunlap, Iowa, USA, )

**63. “I was thinking about a dog, but haven't gotten one yet. Want to get one
but my allergies prevent it.

If you would like to reach me, click

Jared Rimer (Woodland, California, USA)

**64. “For me, going blind was immediate as the result of a head injury at the age
of 31, severing both optic nerves and leaving me with no light perception.
Following a lengthy hospitalization, with 3 months of continuous bed rest, I
had to re-develop my muscles in my legs just to begin walking again and it
became crystal clear to me just how important my mobility was to me. It
took several months before I was sufficiently able to walk with a support
cane. Unconsciously, I began using the support cane as a long cane,
trying to tap as I stepped. When I first received mobility training at
Criss Cole Rehab Center in Austin, the cane travel was slow and tedious. In
many ways, it was one of the most difficult things I had to learn, and, by
far, the most frustrating. It was probably compounded by the fact that I
was walking with a support cane in my left hand and the white cane in my

Also, while at CCRC, I met several people traveling with guide dogs from
various schools. I became curious as to why some traveled with dogs and
others chose to use a cane. I queried many of my fellow consumers at the
center and learned the plusses and minuses, much like this PROVOKER is
doing. The cementing of my decision came when a friend handed me the
harness attached to his Seeing Eye dog and let me walk around the
residential area with him. Wow! My mind was made up. I grew wings that
the cane could not provide and moved about with a peace of mind that I was
not realizing from the cane.

Sure, this occurred early in my rehab, but my choice was made that early. I
wanted to be safely and independently mobile. I found that I could achieve
this, along with the accompanying peace of mind it brought, with using a
guide dog. I continued my cane work for several months while waiting to get
my dog, but was always very slow and unsure with it. Since getting Quarry
from the Seeing Eye, I have found the confidence in my mobility that I lack
with a cane.

At the onset of my blindness, I was forced to use a wheelchair, which made
me long to walk even more. This time in the wheel chair and the perspective
it brought made me realize that whatever it took, I wanted to be able to
walk independently. In many ways, the wheel chair, and the limitation of
independent mobility, was even harder to deal with than the blindness.

When I got Quarry, I quickly realized that a lot of the skills that been
used in cane training were not cane techniques, but mental processing that
applied equally when using a guide dog. The orientation of knowing my
direction of travel, the parallel traffic and perpendicular traffic flows
for crossing streets, landmarks, and clues were equally applicable with
using a dog. I will grant that I may not find every pole or tree along the
way, but when I travel I have one thing in mind...getting to my destination
safely. If I want to find the small details, I can always bust out the cane
and do that. I have never regretted my choice in getting Quarry. I have
found the courage to go out and take on life with him at my side. I am at
the end of my junior year of college that I would have never attempted using
a cane. I have been doing public speaking to high school groups and youth
conferences for four years that I would not have had the strength to do
using my meager cane skills. I am very happily married to a wonderful woman
I met two and a half years ago at one of my speaking engagements. These are
all secondary to the mobility Quarry has provided, but I feel certain I
would have never achieved as much in as short a time, were it not for
getting him.
As has been stated so often already, one's mobility choice is a purely
personal decision. Whichever means one chooses should be approached with
full diligence to mastering the techniques required and staying in good
practice of the skills. After all, it is not just mobility we want, but the
ability to travel safely wherever we go.”

Ron Graham (Houston, Texas, USA,

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