Tuesday, September 3, 2013

September Is...National Guide Dog Month

A blog post that isn't a TED Talk? *sarcasm* Well the answer is yes and its a "This Month Is..." post. This lovely month of September happens to be
National Guide Dog Month.

A guide dog is a dog that is specifically trained to assist visually impaired persons to navigate around places and their homes independently.

National Guide Dog Month is an awareness campaign to educate and raise funds for not-for-profit guide dog training facilities around the world. It can cost upwards of $40,000 and take a couple of years to sufficiently train these animals. For more information check out the International Guide Dog Federation's website here .

Not every visually impaired/blind person will benefit or wants the assistance of a guide dog but for those who do use them they open up a whole new world of mobility. Earlier this year I wrote a blog post featuring cross country runner Sami Stoner and her dog Chloe in Sami Stoner: Teen Cross Country Runner w/ Stargardt's.

Currently I feel like my vision is good enough where I don't think I would benefit from having a guide dog. A few times I've seen people using guide or service dogs out in public and the dogs are very well behaved. I'm just not sure if its right for me yet. I've also haven't had the responsibility of owning an animal and not sure if I want to do so.

Its seems like the biggest issue with guide dogs/animals isn't so much the animals but other people. Many sighted-people don't realize that touching a service animal while its harness is on is rude and disrespectful. The harness being on is a cue that the animal is "on the job". 
Last week I tweeted a link to a blog post I found on tumblr called Are You Being Ableist? You Might Be Surprised. The author of the post recounted an incident where they were falsely accused by a woman in a movie theater of faking their visual impairment. There's a major misconception that only totally blind people use guide dogs. Most people who use guide dogs are visually impaired with residual vision, which means their vision isn't good. Also most people who use service animals don't have a visual disability. Some of these disabilities include but are not limited too neurological, psychiatric, medical and hearing disabilities
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