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Saturday, 2 August 2014

Blind Person and Guide Dog at the Cross Road - who makes the Decision to Cross? The Owner or the Guide Dog?

When a blind person and the guide dog is at the cross road - who do you think makes the decision to cross the road? Personally I always thought it was the guide dog.

I mean that is the point of having a guide dog. Right? You would be surprised that it is actually the owner that makes the decision when to cross. At the cross road the guide dog is waiting for the command from the owner when to cross the road.

Let's Cross the Road

When given the command the guide dog will proceed to cross the road first checking whether it is safe to do so and if unsafe will refuse to cross the road. At this point they will simply wait for the next command. In other words the owner wouldn't say to the guide dog - "I want to cross the road - let's do it when it's safe to do so". That wouldn't work.

Clearly the guide dogs are trained for intelligence disobedience. That is to ignore commands that puts the team in danger. Having said that - it would be then up to the owner to figure out why was the command refused and issue the next command.

The correct procedure would be for the owner to listen for any oncoming cars and when deemed safe to cross the command is given to the guide dog to cross. If the guide dog sees it is safe then it will proceed to do so otherwise it will ignore command and wait for the next command. Obviously the owner would have detected the guide dog's refusal to follow the command and must repeat the whole process again or come to the conclusion that at the given location they can't or it isn't safe to cross the road.

Owning a Guide Dog

The truth is that guide dogs are simply not just awarded to blind people. A blind person must be qualified to earn the right of having a guide dog by at first completing and mastering O&M training (orientation and mobility). By completing the O&M means that the blind person is trained to navigate around. This includes traveling with the aid of cane and trained to learn/know where they are by memory and various strategies so they can navigate around homes, offices and streets.

Spot Quiz Test

Based on all we learned from above we can take a spot quiz of one question:

If a blind person and guide dog go for a walk. Who is responsible for knowing where they are at all times - the owner or the guide dog?

Bingo! You answered correctly - I hope? The owner must know where they are at all times and not the guide dog. And yes - I got that wrong too as personally I always thought it was the responsibility of the guide dog.

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