“Hi, looking for a seat?”
Drink in hand, Ted had just emerged from the cruise ship’s observation deck lounge, his cane tapped the metal of what he took to be a deck chair and the woman who had spoken was sitting in it.
“There’s one right over here…” the woman patted the chair next to her. “This is my first cruise and I’m just bursting to talk about it.”
“I went last year. And thank you for the chair.” Ted said, maneuvering around to the other side of the woman. “Oh, my name is Ted, and yours?” He said setting down his drink, reaching out a hand toward her.
“Cynthia.” She said taking his hand.
(“Humm, an elegant warm hand to go with the pleasant voice,” thought Ted.) “So Cynthia, before I get comfortable, being blind I can’t tell this, but do you have a refreshment? Do you need one?”
“Yes…No…I mean I don’t have one, and yes, I would love one.” She said starting to rise.
“No…” Ted said motioning with his hand for her to stay seated, “I’ll treat. And what would be your pleasure?”
“Well, thanks!” Giving him her choice, she sat back down.
“Cynthia?” Ted said, making sure she was where he thought she’d be. “Here you are and I asked for an extra olive.”
“Yes, it’s me. I love olives. Thank you.” She said, taking it from him.
“So Miss Cynthia, tell me about your cruise.” Ted opened the conversation and the two of them talked and talked, she telling him of her first impressions of the port and then the ship and now the sailing. He told her of his first cruise, the islands visited, the food, the people, and why he came again.
“Oh, look at the time!” Cynthia exclaimed. “Dinner is in ten minutes! I’ve got to change!”
“WOW! Can you believe that! Time flies when you are getting to know a new friend. It’s great. How about dinner, you and me sitting together?”
“I’d love it, Ted.” Both rising, Cynthia said, “Something tells me I don’t need to ask you if you need help getting back to your cabin, right?”
“Right. And on that note, I appreciate how you have handled my blindness. And trust me, Cynthia, if and when I need assistance, I’ll ask. I feel it’s been cool how we both have been able to be so free in our exchange and as we go into this friendship let us try very hard to keep that openness and honesty. And that does mean you may ask anything about my blindness that you wish.”
“Thank you, Ted. You are the first blind person I’ve ever really gotten to know and I’m sure there will be much for me to learn.”
That evening was a wonderful one for the two of them. And over the remaining seven days of the cruise, Ted and Cynthia spend nearly every minute in one another’s company as their relationship grew. Then came the last moonlit night on deck as Ted and Cynthia walked hand in hand under the stars.
“I am so happy I came on this cruise and had the chance to meet you, Ted.” Said Cynthia.
“Cynthia….” Ted began, squeezing her hand, “This is an answer to a dream. And I’m so happy we plan to continue it. It’s like…”
“Like meeting your soul mate?” Cynthia volunteered.
“Yeah, like that. And when you come visit…Oh, my heavens! No one will believe this, but I forgot to tell you about Tiger! You’ll love him.”
“Tiger? Who’s that?”
“My dog guide--my golden retriever, my canine friend and constant companion. I do well with a cane, but usually I go everywhere with Tiger. The only reason he isn't here, is that the poor guy gets sea sick.”
“Cynthia, what’s up, you’ve gotten so quiet?”
Ted stopped, pulling Cynthia around to face him. “Come on now, remember our vow to always tell what we think and feel. I detect sadness, so it can’t be nothing.”
“I didn’t know about your dog. You sound like you love him so.”
Reaching out, touching her arm, Ted said, “Oh, I do, we’ve been together for six years.”
“Ted, I know that you love me, the last week has shown me that…Ted, I can’t be around dogs.”
“Are you allergic to them?”
“Yes, that is part of it. I…when I was eight years old I was attacked by a large dog and, well, I’ve gone through therapy for it, but…it’s still there.”
Ted walked on holding Cynthia’s hand, knowing the hard choice he now faced. It was going to be either Tiger or the Lady.
e-mail responses to email@example.com
**1. I am a cane user, and that's the way I like it. However, I have still had to deal with this issue. My husband, Shawn, is allergic to dogs, and anything else with fur. Shawn and I dated in high school, and we broke up and didn't see each other for many years. During that time, I considered getting a guide dog. I carefully watched dog users I knew, and I even contacted a school that would train me. I didn't end up getting a dog, but I was glad I looked into the possibility. When Shawn and I got back together, he momentarily wondered if I had a dog. I didn't, and we got married. It is still hard because we have a lot of friends with dogs. Shawn has to watch his interactions with dogs, or he could have the world's largest asthma attack. I hate having to ask my friends not to bring their dogs when they come for long visits. Shawn says he understands why they have their guide dogs, and it is hard to tell them he is allergic. He doesn't want to leave anyone out because of their preferred travel aid This is a tough one.
Kasondra Payne Blindkid listserv
**2. Wow, that is a really hard decision. I have a dog guide too and I don't know what I would do if I met a guy who put me in that position. Especially for that reason. If Ted really wants to be with it seems like a shame to let a dog come between them. At the same time Tiger has been a constant companion for six years so it would be totally unfair to him to just toss him aside for a girlfriend.
Maybe they could try a controlled meeting. Tiger could be inside a fence or screened in porch and Cynthia could be on the outside. That way she could meet Tiger without any chance of him touching her so she could be the one to decide how close she wanted to be to him. She could gradually get closer till she felt comfortable with the idea of touching him. If he was in a fence she could play with him by throwing a ball or stick so she could see what his temperament is like even when he is excited. Then she could pet him over the fence. At least that is what I would try first. At least if it worked she would be able to live with him. It may not cure her fear of all dogs but liking one dog is a start. It would take a long time though.
I guess if it didn't work then Ted could just ask Cynthia to wait for him till Tiger retired or passed away.
**3. I dated a fellow with a guide dog once who was extremely jealous of anyone who came near him! He did eventually get married, and I don't know if he kept that dog, but quite frankly, he wasn't the one making the choice! I couldn't take the jealousy, and felt it reflected the emotions in his family. His mother, for example, was extremely judgmental of all his girlfriends, and planned for him to live with her. He wound up next door, I think.
Lori Stayer Merrick, New York 7
**4. The difference is between pets and service animals. The service animal is vital to Ted's functioning. If Ted feels that a cane will totally replace Tiger, then (then he shouldn't have gotten the dog in the first place) maybe a compromise would be reachable. I'm not sure, in this instance alone, that people *ARE* more important. What if he has a relationship with Cynthia, gives up his dog and loses his independence to some degree? Will her love replace his freedom?
Mark BurningHawk BlindLaw listserv
**5. I don't think it is that clear cut. When my former boss got married, she had to get rid of her cats because her husband was allergic. In addition to the emotional difficulty, she had to vacuum her furniture and rugs to get the cat hair out, and this was a major project. But she did it! We don't know what types of therapy Cynthia has tried. Perhaps she could try behavior therapy, which is supposed to be very effective for treating phobias. Obviously, both parties, if they are serious about one another must work toward a possible compromise. But in the end, whether we are talking about a service animal or a pet, people are more important. That is why my former boss made the choice she made.
Ray Wayne BlindLaw listserv
PS: They now have two sons and a dog.
**6. Holy cow! How on earth can two people get to know each other without mentioning important things like dogs and/or children? I can understand, perhaps, omitting another equally important factor like a spouse or partner inasmuch as some people do have this opinion that cruises and conventions are for, gee! how did Dave so eloquently put it? Well, you get the jist
Jessie ACB-L list
**7. After reading this, and then looking at the title again, I thought that it could also be entitled: "Overcoming fear, or the love of your life" Obviously, the guy with the dog also gets around with a cane, so he can adapt to either world, but he also has a dog that he can't just get rid of either. Sounds to me like that getting rid of a companion of many years would be a drastic measure for someone after having just spending the period of a cruise, getting to know. I think they would do well to spend more time together, and he can use his dog to help desensitize her of her fear, while using his cane skills in the mean-time. Maybe by the time she has lost her fear of dogs, he will be more comfortable with using the cane all the time, and will not want another dog. Also his dog could die, or be ready for retirement by the time they are ready for a commitment. So they should take it slowly and things will work out, assuming this is a real situation.
Glenn Ervin Norfolk Nebraska
**8. A couple of comments, the first one being that if surprised me that a guide dog user would leave his dog behind on a cruse. I'm sure there would be a logical reason for this, but it doesn't seem to fit with the level of commitment I've seen with most folks that have dogs. As far as their relationship goes, I think both people would have to work through it together, and not make any snap decisions. It would be a tough choice, and it shouldn't just be his to make.
Jeff Altman MA NOMC NFB Rehabilitation Professionals listserv
.....FROM ME: I had once included a short line in the first draft about how the dog was prone to sea sickness. And to my regret didn't keep it in. So, notice how many comments I've gotten on it! so on this date I've reinstated that comment. Interesting how that is a point that comes up; the TP to me was to focus on the relationship between the man and woman, not the man and the dog.
**9. I'd dump the woman. No questions asked. I will not live without my dog guide. That is a requirement when dating. I also love horses, and etc., so a potential date needs to tolerate them and the fact that they are a part of my life. He needs to be willing to live with the dog guide.
Sarah and Ricky, the yellow Labrador, celebrating seven years together!
**10. It's a no brainer... my blind mother with a guide dog always said, "always have your own visa card". In other words, even if you go from "me" to "we", you should always maintain your independence, individuality and right to make choices that affect you. When she got her first dog, my father (not a dog-lover) said "what do you need that for? It will make a mess and besides I take you wherever you want to go". She said "yes, that's true. But you don't stay on your harness, follow direction, and keep your mouth shut when I make purchases". He threatened to leave or not have anything to do with the dog. Mom is now on her third dog, last time I went to visit, dad was laying on the floor with the dog curled up next to him. Morale of the story- you can teach an old dog new tricks. love is about compromise not sacrifice.
**11. A guide dog becomes almost an extension of the handler in that not only do they lay their lives on the line for us, but they become so in tune that they are the first one to know when we are sad, worried, scared or happy. I suppose it really depends on what each of these people are willing to do for the other. My mother was afraid of large dogs and two people in my family have severe allergies. Still they have adjusted because they want me to be safe and realize what my dogs add to my life. I have done what I can to accommodate them as well. I keep my dogs under control, put a body suit on my dog to minimize dander when around allergic people and try hard to make sure my dogs are clean and well groomed. I will leave my dog at home on occasion if asked, but many handlers don't find this a reasonable thing because they are not comfortable with their cane skills or worry about their dog too much. Like any other accommodation to blindness, how people choose to deal with the inherent problems is up to the individuals involved. Scott seems comfortable with his cane and he may choose to continue the friendship and work out the problems as best he can. I do find it a bit unrealistic that the subject never came up until the last minute like this though. A beloved guide dog just does get into the conversation somehow when discussing family, friends, living arrangements etc. DeAnna
DeAnna Quietwater Noriega Colorado
**12. At the Guide Dog school in San Rafael, CA they are looking into training poodles (standard size) as guide dogs because they tend to not cause as much of an allergy problem as other dogs with longer hair. Not sure how far along they are with the experiment. I know poodles tend to be pretty smart.
Pat Blindkid listserv
**13. Wooohoo, There's no question. As much as I love dogs, the choice would be the lady, all the way. I made a similar decision years ago when my dog guide was fast approaching retirement. He lived out his latter years at my sister's home as my wife and I were pregnant and, well, she didn't want to have to deal with the dander and all that. My dog was the finest worker there ever was trained but my marriage is forever.
Maurice Peret OandM listserv
**14. In order for any relationship to work, there has to be a level of give-and-take on both sides. First of all, I commend Cynthia for accepting Ted "as is." She did not take the typical "Social Darwinist" route of rejecting a fellow human being just because of his disability. Secondly, I commend Ted for his patience in dealing with Cynthia. He was POLITE in refusing "help." (A younger man might have been angry at the suggestion.) But, to me, the whole issue of choosing between "Tiger" or "the Lady" is a no-brainer. Solomon had asked, "Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies" (Proverbs 31:10). If you are SURE that you have found your soul-mate, you don't toss her out so easily! To make this assessment, I have to carefully consider the facts that Ted gives. First of all, he admits that he could function just as well with a cane as with a dog. However, a blind person once told me that some people just aren't skilled at cane-travel; so, if that had been the case with Ted, it would have been a matter of necessity. But it wasn't. It was his choice. Secondly, as attached as he might be to his guide dog, Ted has to realize that they don't last forever. I've read and heard testimonies from blind people that guide dogs usually don't work too long. Their actual life-span may be the same as an ordinary dog; BUT! their ability to actually do the job lasts, on average, much shorter! At age five, Tiger is just about to approach the average retirement age...at least, as far as I can tell, based on what I've read. A potential wife, however, lasts a lifetime. Now, because Ted has an option, it makes the decision easy. Definitely take the Lady! I mean, they don't grow on trees, you know! I've often wondered what I'd do in this situation. I'm not blind. However, I'm not too fond of dogs. (I'm not allergic, nor am I afraid; It's just that I'm more of a "cat person.") BUT! If I were in this situation, and I met a woman who happened to need a guide dog, I would have to compromise. I would learn to get along with it. (I'll tell you one thing, though: It sure wouldn't happen over drinks! I'll let a dog in my house; booze, never!)
**15. The choice doesn't require much thought from my end, Take the real, true love. I know, I've been there and done that. Keep Tiger! The right person will come along. In mean time, you will have true happiness. Someone that is always glad to see you, no matter what mood you're in, and one that really loves you no matter what problems you have or might experience.
Jack Omaha Nebraska
**16. I, for sure, would not get rid of the dog immediately. I am not a guide dog user, but providing that I can set the dog aside for some months, if that is even possible, I would spend more times with the woman to see if she's the person I want. If she turns out to be trouble, then I know, I can get the dog back in. After a while, if I determine that she is the person I want, then I would immediately relinquished position of the dog.
Rod Alcidonis NFB NABS listserv
**17. Why does the choice have to be Ted's alone? Can't Cynthia be willing to work on her fear some more? Avoidance therapy using Tiger? With Ted as her reward?
Kathy Ashley, MS, CRC Program Director for Blind & VI Services Vocational Rehabilitation Services
**18. What a horrible choice! I have no idea what I would do in this situation. My dog makes traveling, in a rural area, more comfortable, but it would be hard to give up a wonderful relationship. It would be wonderful if the lady were open to meeting Tiger, at least. I wonder what others do in a similar situation?
Marcia Beare Martin, Michigan
**19. For several reasons, I don't think the situation portrayed by this particular Thought Provoker is very likely to occur in real life.
First of all, these days cruise ships have been made to comply with the ADA, and therefore, accommodations have been made for cruise ship passengers who are accompanied on board by their guide dogs or other assistance animals. So Ted, if he were as close to his guide dog as the story depicts, would almost surely have brought the guide dog along with him on the cruise. Therefore, the lady in question would have known up front that the man chose to use a guide dog as his mobility technique, and she could have made the decision right away as to whether she wanted to get to know him or not.
Secondly, it is inconceivable to me that any guide dog user, or any pet lover, for that matter, could have gone a whole week of intense conversation and getting to know another person without once mentioning his love for animals and his relationship with a guide dog. Just as he would have mentioned his family and probably some of his good friends back home, he would surely have mentioned his guide dog and perhaps other important animals in his life, long before the final night of the cruise.
Finally, it seems to me that it would be fairly easy for the woman to try to overcome her old fear of dogs in order to continue the relationship with Ted. After all, golden retrievers are not aggressive dogs, and guide dogs in general are chosen for their friendly and tractable temperaments. They are not the stereotypical scary watchdog type. Also, even if she had a fear of dogs in general, once an individual gets to know a particular dog as a member of the family, one can usually separate that particular dog from the species as a whole. She might never become best buddies with Ted's guide dogs, but I think that most people, given the motivation of a love relationship with the guide dog handler, could learn to live with the guide dog, especially because Ted is going to be the one who feeds, grooms, and otherwise cares for the dog exclusively.
Even aside from all of the above considerations, I still don't think the decision is Ted's between the lady and the guide dog. I think the real decision belongs to the lady who has to choose whether or not to continue her relationship with Ted, knowing that guide dogs are, and probably will continue to be, an important part of his life.
It would not be fair for the lady to ask Ted to give up his guide dog in order to accommodate her irrational fear of dogs. If he were to comply with her request, Ted would be surrendering part of his independence and competence. This would not bode well for the future of the relationship, I think.
"Love me, love my dog" is the operative principle here. And if the lady chooses to walk away from her newfound relationship with Ted, I say "good riddens" to her. Next time Ted goes on a cruise he can take his golden retriever guide dog with him, and he will have more women than he knows what to do with clambering to get to know him and his beautiful, cuddly companion!
Ann Edie AREnet listserv
**20. Without a doubt, Ted will choose the lady. Sure, he's loved Tiger for six years, but that was before he met Cynthia. If, as both Ted and Cynthia claim, this is the relationship they have been waiting for, then Tiger is headed for a nice peaceful retirement. If, by some wild stretch of imagination Ted did pick Tiger, Cynthia can thank her lucky star that she learned of Ted's fixation after only one week. She can then return to the job of looking for that perfect relationship. And Ted may return to showering all his love on good old Tiger.
Carl Jarvis ACB-L listserv
**21. Well, Robert, this has been your best thought provoker. That was perfect! She barely noticed the blindness. The dog twist made it truly provoke thoughts. I believe that he can show her that Tiger will not bite anybody and that she ought not to fear him.
Ben J. Bloomgren
**22. It's hard to determine what the correct choice should be in this situation. A fear of dogs is a very strong thing, for some people. But, maybe, if Cynthia is willing to meet Tiger and get to know him, slowly, that would help. On the other hand, since Ted is a good cane user, maybe he'd be willing to use his cane, for awhile, until he and Cynthia are sure where the relationship is going. After they have a solid relationship, they could have a discussion about Cynthia meeting Tiger and do that, slowly, maybe with help from her therapist. But, I don't really think a choice needs to be made, right away, and, hopefully, never.
Cindy Handel Willow Street, PA
**23. This would be a tough decision to make, and since I'm not a guide dog user, I don't know how I would decide what to do. I think that I would have to give it a lot of thought and see what my options were before I made a decision.
Scott Spaulding NFB NABS listserv
**24. Moral of the story, cruises are for things like, "wham, ban, thank you maan. Or, were you really dumb enough to go through a whole week with somebody not telling them about an important aspect of your life, yet wanting to carry it on? Hmmm!
Dave McElroy ACB NABS listserv
**25. This is a no-brainer for me. I am totally blind and have never desired to have a dog. I have been around blind people with dogs, as well as sighted people who have dogs that in their mind a person is required to "Just love because he is so cute". I don't like being licked in the face or on my hands (which prompted an argument with a blind person who insisted that her dog be allowed to lick people while we stood in the chow line at rehab. I have no desire to have to walk my dog around three or four times daily, pick up his droppings and dispose of them, bathe the dog, take him to visit with friends in rainy weather and have him walk into my friend's house and shake himself violently all over their walls and furniture, and on and on! Dogs have to be trained to find your bank, your doctor's office, your super market, etc. My cane is my constant companion and I am in love with it. I feel no need for canine companionship. When I get home at night, I fold it up, put it on the table and go to bed. It needs no bath, no walk, no clean up, and best of all, it does not lick my face to wake me up in the morning to be let out. It's wonderful! On the other hand, female companionship is about the best thing I can think of. My wife and I travel a lot, and believe me, it is great! If this guy gives up the lady for the dog, he needs a lot of help!
Jim Theall Longmont, Colorado
**26. This TP brought out my thoughts as a therapist. I treat individuals, couples, and families. First, this couple is still in what we call, the "infatuation" stage. This couple needs to get to know each other slowly; a whirlwind cruise is not enough time. I think of the guide dog as a metaphor for what some couples try to overlook, then try to overcome before seeking help from a professional. The other thing is, isn't it also up to the sighted partner? Her trauma should not be marginalized just because her potential love match is a guide dog user. Her feelings are just as important. If this situation was an actual one, help is available but it will take a lot of work and commitment from both people to see it though or when to say they've had enough. Personally, being married to a sighted partner for 15 years, having kids, and being a dog lover (but not a GD user), I know the strain my disability has on them. I do my best to keep things as normal as possible but life is a bit different for us. We've had to make adjustments that are sometimes contrary to what society/culture expects. I tell my kids that our family is better because we are more aware of each other's needs but they still have trouble. Life.
Ann Chiappetta, MFT Intern
**27. I read it twice, still don't believe it 3 reasons why below 1. that a dog guide user could spend a week without mentioning his best friend, partner 2. If she was allergic to dogs being around him dog dander on his clothes wouldn't have brought an attach on 3.That the dog was her reason for putting an end to the relationship just her way of ending it gracefully before getting home were she would have to introduce Ted the blind man to friends and family! Just call me a cynic! He would be wise to leave it at that go home hug his partner be happy the shipboard romance is over
Diane Victoria BC Canada
**28. The first thought that popped into my mind was, "Why was Tiger not on the cruise?" Next, I put myself in Ted's place, wondering at the unkindness of fate that would ask him to make such a choice! Or...was it indeed his choice to make alone? If indeed, a lasting relationship had developed over such a brief period of time, what other choices would this "Love Boat" couple have to make? There is a choice beneath the crush of a brief romance that must also be made. Both seemed to yearning for a void-filling and enduring love. Having had 6 dog guides, I'm not a good cane traveler and my "girls" all have heart pockets in which to rest. But why, Ted, would you not mention Tiger in the course of your sharing with Cynthia? Scared you'd lose the lady who might also be a lifelong companion? Is the tiger really about fear of wobbling on the edge of a precipice where you and you alone decide the future?
Jo, Aggie and Salaam
**29. Actually, I think I would leave the ball in the woman's court. I would explain the excellent training these dogs go through and the screening processes to assure their behavior. I think it could be a learning/growing experience for the woman. If there is truly a relationship there....... If she would take the time to watch and learn about guide dogs it would surely reassure her. I understand the terror she probably feels when she meets a big dog, but with reassurance and slow exposure this might be the motivation she needs to overcome her problem. She really can't go through life being that afraid.
**30. Ted, Cynthia, and the dog. I cannot imagine anyone giving up the opportunity for love and friendship because of a dog. If Ted and Cynthia share other interests and are otherwise compatible, Ted should give up the dog, as hard as that would be. After all, he clearly gets around well with a cane, so his mobility would hardly be impaired. Cynthia does not appear to be hung up about blindness, so it is not as if the dog represented larger issues of acceptance of Ted's blindness. They could try allergy therapy, and maybe counseling, but in the end I think it would be unconscionable to abandon Ted and Cynthia's relationship over a mobility tool. I know many will think it unconscionable to give up a cherished companion -- the dog -- for what may turn out to be just a fling, but this merely highlights the fact that guide dogs are more than advertised -- i.e., more than just a mobility tool for many who use them.
Brian Miller Alexandria, VA
**31. So, tell me, Mr. Thought Guy, why can't I have Ted's luck? Screw the guide dog thing, because I would have chosen the lady any day. But, I'd love to just go up to a Cynthia like lady and have the luck this ol' boy had on the cruise. If Ted's real at all, remind me to beat him up next time!
**32. Why doesn't Ted have the dog on the cruise? Other than that question, this one's a no-brainer. Tough to do, but if Ted has the strength he must have to deal with blindness and people's prejudice/ignorance as well as he seems to, he will have the strength to choose the dog. If she loves him enough, she'll get over it. Considering how well-kept most guide dogs are, allergies seem like the lesser of the problems--her PTSD about being attacked would be the harder one, but again, I can't think of a better type of dog to get over it with than a guide dog; gentle, loving, patient, hell Tiger would probably just ignore her if she didn't speak to him. I've made the choice before, and I've always chosen the guide dog over the woman. Can someone please postulate to me the type of person who would NOT choose the dog? It's a one-week cruise relationship; I can't imagine he won't be all better in a couple of weeks or months. And, as I say, if she loves him, she'll get over it.
Mark BurningHawk BlindLaw listserv
**33. Wow, what a very good "Thought Provoker."
Life is full of hard choices but I would not want to be in Ted's shoes for anything.
I do believe that compromise and negotiation, in tandem with good communication, can overcome most problems.
If I loved Cynthia, I would ask her if she had researched medicines to alleviate her allergies to dogs. I would also talk to her about how her therapy had been handled. Was she exposed to dogs in order to bring her to terms with her fear. If she had not been exposed to dogs, I might give her some information on the training and handling of guide dogs. I think that probably this would be the best kind of therapy. She could learn for herself, in a controlled setting, that all dogs are not malicious or aggressive. She could learn of the great contributions that guide dogs make to the world at large.
If she was unwilling to budge, I guess I'd have to let the relationship go. My thinking here is that if she could not work through this difficulty, then she couldn't work through difficulties that would arise later. And, difficulties would come up. No relationship is without them. The strong relationships are those which last through the difficult times.
I might consider giving up my guide dog but I am not speaking with experience here. I've never had a guide dog so it would be inappropriate for me to say what I might do in the event that Cynthia could not work through her fears and anxieties.
Rex Henry Howard
**34. As others have said, I'm not too sure how realistic this whole story is, but as it is these T/Ps are meant to start thought and perhaps not so much meant to be 100% real, here goes...
I've been working with dog guides for shortly over 10 years having received my first guide in November of 1995 from Guide Dogs for the Blind. I received my current dog guide, also a male golden from GDB in 2000 so have been together as a team for as long as the man Ted and his dog Tiger in the story.
For seven of the past ten years my choice of breed, Golden retrievers, didn't have much effect on anyone in my life, mainly because there was nobody else of importance in my life, so the only problem, and it really has never been **THAT** much of a problem with my goldens was the massive amounts of grooming and shedding their long silky coats posed.
Now however, I am finding that I might have to take the choice of getting a shorter haired dog, such as a lab in the next few years when Fleming, now age 8, retires because both my feeancee and his oldest daughter suffer from asthma and have allergies. They both adore Fleming and have accepted both he and I into their lives and don't seem to have much of a trouble with Fleming's fur but when the time does come I very well may have to ponder getting a lab even though I dearly love goldens... And my point for having said all that? Is simply this. The choices we make at first may not seem to impact any of the people in our lives at the time of our initial choice but could play a part in having an impact on people whom we meet down the road in life. Of course we have no idea at the time of our choice what the future holds but still the possibility is there... In fact, I think a majority of my response will, in some part be dealing with choice, although I've not quite sorted out how the rest of this message will come out so please hang with me as there are some bits in the story that I'd like to point up directly...
One thing I find very ironic and rather interesting is that Ted starts out by telling Cynthia:
"I feel it's been cool how we both have been able to be so free in our exchange and as we go into this friendship let us try very hard to keep that openness and honesty."
openness and honesty? Keep this in mind as we progress through several days and nights of talks, meals and general getting to know one another. I find it rather strange that Ted can stand there and talk about openness and honesty, go through nearly a week of chatting up a possible mate, life partner, whatever you want to call Cynthia then on the very last night of the trip say:
"Oh, my heavens! No one will believe this, but I forgot to tell you about Tiger! You'll love him." Openness and honesty? Um? Excuse me, but, this doesn't seem to be very open or honest to my way of thinking. Perhaps I'm being a bit harsh and perhaps some dog guide users aren't as keen to share about their dogs if their dogs aren't in evidence but sort of-kinda leaving out the fact you've got a guide dog at all, especially one you claim is "My dog guide--my golden retriever, my canine friend and constant companion." let us not forget for the past 6 years no less. Is just. Well pardon the sea-going pun, fishy.
A majority of the dog guide users I know will at least say something or other in passing about their dogs, even if their dogs aren't with them. Not every dog user takes his or her dog every place. Some leave their dogs home for big conventions (pick your organization of choice). Others leave their dogs home from time to time because they want to maintain their cane skills, or it's just a very quick jaunt to the shops, or there's no room in the car for this trip or the weather is really bad or for whatever reason. I have not yet met anyone who would just sort of handily forget that he or she has a guide dog and has had this particular dog guide for oh only the past SIX years.
If I were Cynthia, especially having been given the green light to ask whatever I liked regarding Ted's blindness, and if I had the issues that Cynthia had regarding dogs I'd think that perhaps one of the questions I'd ask early on is "do you have a dog guide?" Although Cynthia does state that Ted is the first blind person she's gotten to know. As shocking to us blind folks as it might seem, the idea of a trained dog to guide us is still unheard of in some parts of the world, and even in this country. Trust me. I've lived in those necks of the woods where no one had ever seen, much less heard of a dog guide so I'm not sure I could really fault Ms. Cynthia for being back-woodsy enough you could cry...
Another thing, and perhaps this comes from watching too much Dr. Phil or having been burned by a whirlwind romance in the past, but how in the world can you be so sure it's "love" after only seven days? Granted it's seven days on a ship at sea and thus the likelihood of getting away from the other person is less, thus meaning more one on one time than one might get in "the real world" but still, how can you, in the space of only seven days be so sure you love somebody? Sure you can care about them, think you'd like to go after a relationship with them, but to ponder giving up your dog, cat, bird, friends, place you live, etc for something that might be not love but lust? Doesn't seem very smart to me. Been there, done that got the T-shirt, never doing that again... If I were either of these people I'd work on a friendship first. They've got a good or fairly good groundwork in place but they should work on building on this and seeing if they really do like each other or if it were all the ship-side drinks that colored their perceptions of each other.
As for the issues stated in the T/P. Cynthia's allergies and her fear of dogs. There are several ways in which this can be addressed if, there really is a relationship that will be long lasting.
First, as I've stated in a round about way. I'd make no quick choices on what to do with Tiger. He has no choice in anything in any of this. All he's known all of his life is being a working dog. He didn't choose to be picked out of his litter to be a puppy in training. He didn't choose his puppy raisers, he didn't choose to be taken back to school, to leave his raiser home. I guess you could say in some small way on some level he did choose to go through the dog guide training because he made it through the program, some dogs just choose not to learn whatever it is the trainers are trying to teach them, such as pulling in the harness, not fighting with other dogs, not using the toilet in harness or whatever it is that gets them dropped from the program so, Tiger's making it to phase 10 or whatever his school calls the class ready stage of training could be seen as a choice. Still.
Tiger didn't choose to be Ted to be his person. But that's who he wound up with. Ted could of had some choice in accepting Tiger or not, he could of said "I would like another dog please." but he didn't. And he and Tiger have bonded and become each other’s "family pack". Tiger and Ted are interdependent on each other. Ted provides, or should be providing a safe, warm, loving home for Tiger with lots of good care, good food, medical care and reassurance that he'll be there for Tiger. Tiger on the other paw provides Ted with independence and a safe mode of getting about. It's well and fine to be good with a cane, in fact it is very important that any dog user if at all possible maintain good cane skills but obviously there is something to be gained through Ted's use of Tiger as his main means of travel aide, otherwise, why would he do it?
I think that Ted owes it to Tiger who has only given his life's worth to do the only thing he's ever known, as far as dogs can know things, to try to sort out something that will be a "win win" outcome.
Tiger is age 7 most likely if they've been together for 6 years so may be nearing retirement. If the allergies and fear are so much of an issue between Ted and Cynthia perhaps they can use Tiger's remaining working years to build a friendship that may or may not go on to something more. Then when Tiger retires they can talk about taking it to the next level.
As for Cynthia's fear issues, perhaps trying another form of physiological help may be in order if her previous attempts at dealing with this have not had a good outcome. As someone earlier suggested maybe using Tiger and getting her used to him as an "ice breaker dog" would be good to try. However this may backfire if Ted goes for another dog. Cynthia will not know this new dog and the whole lot of them might find themselves at square one again.
If it were me, and I am very glad it isn't. It would be a very hard place to find one's self in but I wouldn't rush into some half-assed choice to throw out the dog. Granted dogs, especially most working dogs, aren't in our lives as long as some people but they don't really have a voice in the matter and if you've had a relationship with your dog guide you owe it to that dog to think of his feelings as well as your own because like it or not it isn't just all about you. And most importantly I wouldn't rush anything I'd be careful and take it in baby steps if I were in their place, in the same boat if you will.
**35. Well, its bin nice to know ya Tiger. I hope you're new life is good to you.
I did run around town with a Dog Guide for 3 years, but we parted company still friends and it wasn't because of a woman either. He didn't want to be a Dog Guide and I didn't want to be a dog handler. However, I did go through a lot of stuff with my wife of the day. She didn't want to be replaced by a Dog Guide so never did get to like the dog. In fact, he likely remained a wedge between us. At the end of the day, one has to decide on who the keeper is, and that's never an easy decision.
Good luck to those of you who still have this one to make. I know where I'm going to be in the future. I want someone to cuddle with, and it aint gonna be no dog.
Thx, Albert Rule Canada
**36. Oh, wow. Great thought Provoker, but I'm going to have to reply to this one anonymously, because this hits way too close to home for me and probably to people who'll be reading this.
I know a few people in this very predicament. Well, to one person, it's a predicament, to another, it's a no-brainer.
I know a guy who loves his dog so much, he's never going to have a good relationship with a woman. The only way he will, is if he hooks up with a woman who feels exactly the same way about HER dog. His dog is the center of his attention at all times. Even while dining in a nice restaurant, instead of conversing with me, he's always feeling around for and then petting the dog, and talking to it, asking it how it's doing, as if the dog's going to look up and say "I'm just fine, Bernie, enjoy your dinner". I understand that he loves the thing, but his behavior makes me think twice before accepting an invitation to do stuff with him. When I enter the guy's apartment, the dog, which is quite big, jumps all over me, sniffs me where I don't want to be sniffed, licks me on the hands, puts his wet nose on me, and my friend thinks it's cute how the dog likes me. Yuck, I always have to wash my hands to get the dog smell off them! When I start to sniffle or, God forbid, sneeze, he tells the dog to get down, then praises it for sitting all the while not knowing (because he can't see) that the dog is sitting on my foot! It's quite annoying, yet he doesn't understand how anyone does not like his dog. Sorry, I didn't sign on for that. When I drive us places, I always ask if he'd be kind enough to put the dog in the back, but he won't. The dog has to get crammed up in the front with him, therefore being ever close to me, the driver, who doesn't like to drive with itchy eyes, but I do it anyway. I have little kids so there are usually left over French fries, chicken nuggets or other tasty morsels under the seats or in the cracks of the cushions until the next trip to the car wash, and his dog will munch on whatever is there. Guess what? He gets mad at ME for letting his dog eat "people food"!! Sorry, don't bring the dog in my car, then. Once, after asking again to put it in the back but being told that the Seeing Eye rules are that the dog must be up front, I was driving along and I heard a slurping sound........I looked down to find the dog drinking from the water glass I had in the front cup holder!! So much for my thirst, but then, I'm just a human, not a beloved dog. Eventually, I got tired of taking a back seat to a canine, and while we're still friends, we don't go anywhere together anymore.
I know someone else who considers his dog his family, even sleeps with it. He has business cards with both their names on them! He's not an independent man, he's part of a team, and he puts the dog right up there with himself, and as a result he has been through at least four failed marriages because of his intense loyalty to dogs over the people in his life. Too bad, so sad, because he still doesn't see that people can bring him a wealth of happiness if only he'd let them. I suppose if he was hurt before, he'd have reason to be wary, but not to the point of putting the dog first. I've noticed that a lot of blind people even sign their names with their dogs' names, such as "Bob and Blackie", "Laurie and Hero"......this makes no sense to me. What part of the letter, email or announcement did the dog take part in? It makes the blind person look more helpless than independent, as if they couldn't possibly have written what they wrote without the help of their loving pooch. Please, it's insulting to me to get a letter from a dog. I communicate with people, not animals. Once, when I mentioned to my friend that he could get around very well without the dog, I've seen him do it (for me), he said that everyone paid attention to him because of the dog. People recognized him because of the dog. What is that all about? Wouldn't most people want to be recognized for being themselves? I think I'd be insulted if I was traveling with an animal and that got attention before I did.
Some people just aren't "dog people", even those who actually own dogs. I personally have small dogs, they're cute and I love them, but they're animals, they don't come first in my life over people, if the house was on fire I'd want them to escape but the people in the house are what I'd run back in for, not the animals. I don't expect my friends or company in my home to accept, pet or love my dogs, and if anyone's allergic or uncomfortable around them, the doggies go outside, the people stay inside and are entertained. People have to come first. And even though I do like my dogs, I'm extremely uncomfortable around big dogs, and guide dogs generally are rather large. The larger the dog, the stronger the doggie odor, the more dander is in the air, and the more hairs are all over. To some people, it's disgusting. If the guy in the thought provoker can get around well with his cane, then he shouldn't have to lose his independence by hanging onto a dog all the time, or lose his identity by becoming defined by the canine guiding him, or lose the chance of lifetime love over canine fidelity.
I'm surprised to read so many of the responses that say it's a no-brainer: the lady goes and the dog stays. The people who've written that may be happy with their dogs, but I didn't read anything about a "significant HUMAN other" in their lives. How sad to miss out on the love of another human being because of the belief that the dog will always be there, loving faithfully and unconditionally, and always knows when one is sad or needing something. Wow, ditch the dog and you can probably find a real person who will love you faithfully and unconditionally and will be in tune with your emotions and needs. I think people who are so into their dogs that they include the dog's name in their correspondence or actually sleep with them, have probably been hurt by another person, and who hasn't been? Instead of healing and then trying again with someone new, I am afraid a lot of the dog defenders who've responded to this thought provoker are hiding behind their dogs, shielding themselves from the emotional ups and downs that come with human relationships, choosing instead to love and depend on an animal. What a shame.
So here's to hoping Ted will sail into the sunset with a beautiful, loving woman by his side, rather than follow behind a canine which might be a convenience and a faithful companion but after all, at the end of the day, is only a dog. Nothing matters more than the love of another person!
**37. One important point in all of these remark is missing. For me, Ted is lying. He wait week to tell her. What else would he lie about. I would not believe Ted. All other thing are unimportant because the first step being truthful to one another is gone out the window. For me, I do not like dogs. Making him give up his dog is wrong. Ted would not ever happy with out his dog. She would not be happy because she force him to give up his dog. You would end up with human dog fight. In other word Ted and her would be fighting all the time marrying would not last.
Relationship must start out truthful, honest, and true love much be there.
**38. The tiger.
First of all, he just met the girl. And since relationships take quite a while to develop there will be much time for them to work out the dog issue.
Second, his dog, has been with him for six years. This dog is young to retire, and too old for retraining.
Personally, i wouldn't make any rash moves till things panned out, and if perhaps she is his only one, then there are things that can be done, both on her and his part to make the situation work for both of them.
I have a dog, love dogs, and at this point, whoever I end up with had better be a dog lover too, smile.
Shelley L. Rhodes B.S. Ed, CTVI
and Judson, guiding golden
Guide Dogs For the Blind Inc.
Graduate Alumni Association Board
**39. After reading all the responses, and rereading the story, I had a few other thoughts. First, I wonder if meeting someone on a cruise is similar to meeting someone on the internet. Both parties have a chance to be who they most want to be and leave some of the baggage at home. A cruise is definitely not the place to make a life's decision. Second, as a person who deals with PTSD, I can say, from experience, that it is possible to get past it. It takes tons of work, support, love and commitment, but it can be done. I understand there is also medication for it now. Third, we all have reasons for choosing the travel aid we do. That doesn't mean that one is right or wrong, but we all have various needs. For me, a cane would not give me the independence I enjoy with a dog. A cane just does not work comfortably in the areas I need to travel. I would have a hard time giving up that independence for someone who may or may not work out. She accepts his blindness now, but will she have second thoughts when her family, friends and coworkers respond to her date? If Ted gives up the dog, what does Cynthia give up? It seems the base for possible resentment to brew.
Marcia Beare Martin, Michigan
**40. Hi. Well, having never used a guide dog before I can't really relate to this on as personal a level as some of you I'm sure. However, I have heard that the bond between dog and owner is very strong. Funny I should be responding to this one now, because my roommate is hopefully going for his guide-dog training any day now. This week someone from the Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind is supposed to come follow my roommate around with a video camera.
**41. For me this is a very interesting topic and one that I've wondered about for a while. I have some sight in my right eye pretty much none in my left no peripheral vision and no depth perception. So far using a cane is very stressful for me. Yesterday I went on a trip with some friends to the space center in Huntsville Alabama and then to the tour of a cave that was about 45 minutes to the north east of the space center for anyone who lives in Alabama and may know where I'm talking about. Anyway through the entire trip kept having minor setbacks with using my cane. While we were at the space center, it was very noisy, there were people everywhere. Since am 16 and with a group of kids my own age I wanted to of course do and experience everything . However, it didn't always work out that way. At the center you were always in a crowd and even though I tried to stay on the outside fringe I still wound up with my cane running up under or tapping some ones feet. The people staring and talking when they thought I was out of earshot I've gotten use to. That was my mane problem with the space center, and hopefully it doesn’t seem like I'm whining, but I did have a more difficult time in the cave. I didn’t mind the fact that it was dark or the almost 4 mile walk through the cave. That was a lot of fun, but the steps ,which are the one thing other than lettice and tomatoes that I despise, and the fact that the echoes from my cane and the crowed became so confusing that I took the time to explain to one of the chaperones on how to be a sighted guide. She of coerce was glad to help, but I think she got tired and just wouldn’t admit it. If anyone has some tips they would be of use. I have never used a guide dog , but I have 12 dogs at home and I love to go exploring in the woods. I cant tell you the # of times they have helped me get out of and around holes or over fallen trees and around briar patches. I wont even begin about the snakes. I have often thought about getting a guide dog to help me through college and then through the next 4 years of Seminary school. I have fairly good navigation skills and I am also a good cane user. Plus taking care of and training dogs has been a part of my life ever since my first dog Rover showed up and since then I have both leash and obedience trained somewhere in the neighborhood of 58 dogs so I don’t think I would have too much trouble with a guide dog, but I'll cross that bridge when it gets here.
**42. I have been ill and have not commented for a long time. Contrary to popular belief, I am still alive and kicking, however. There is a difference between having an allergy and having a phobia. The articles seem to lean toward people with phobias, not allergies. We have to get that problem out of the way first. So, which is it, allergy or phobia? I did not see the original article unless it was the first on the list. Both allergies and phobias can be cured in most cases, but the method of treatment is a little different.
**43. A few people mentioned it, but not many addressed the fact that Cynthia told Ted that she's also allergic to dogs. yes, there's the fear factor that can be address by having a fence between Tiger and her until Cynthia felt more at ease with Tiger's presence, but the other critical issue was her allergic reaction. Some people can get by with taking some kind of medicine for stuffy nose and watery eyes or hives. However, there are other more critical reactions, such as having difficulty breathing, as one of the respondents mentioned about their friend who has an asthma attack around animals. I think that, whether the issue is about pets or service animal, job, children, etc., each partner in a relationship has to make decisions; some decisions are easier than others. If Ted having a guide-dog wasn't the issue, then it could have been children. he could have been married once before and has children who come to visit. Could Cynthia handle his kids coming over or his ex-wife being present? Would she want to become involved with another woman's children? She may not want to become a stepmother. She may not even want kids in general. Whatever the case be and whatever the stumbling blocks may be in making a decision, the decision Ted and Cynthia make to stay together or not is a decision they have to live with, which is what the rest of all of us learn in life. There are many times when we regret the decisions we make, but there's no way to turn back time to make the correction(s).
**44. I would choose tiger. I once dumped a guy because he was jealous of my first dog Bruce. Said I was more affectionate to my dog then I was to him. I don't see either my guide dogs as "only animals". They are more important to me then other humans. Who else can I rely on to take me places any time of the day or night. They don't do drugs, they aren't after your money, and they don't try to control you or spread nasty rumors about you either.
Good Relationships may be hard to come by, but I've wasted too much time already in the company of people I wasn't compatible with, so the needs of my furry family will always come first. Not only won't I part with my guide dog but I won't part with any of my rescued rodents either. Love me, love my animals. That's the way I see it. If people think I can just dump my family, whether human, canine or rodent, to suit them they simply aren't worth knowing.