|Nolte (Retired Guide Dog)|
Guide dog work- is a joyous- thing!
|Barked: Sun Dec 31, '06 10:34pm PST |
|Hi Emily! I'm sight impaired, not totally blind. I have no sight in my right eye, and extremely limited functional sight in the left. I'll try to explain my vision as I do to school children (when I do guide dog presentations).
It's sort of like seeing the world as a patchwork quilt... if I walk into a classroom full of children it appears to me almost like a patchwork quilt spread out in front of me. I can see lots of colors, but no detail.
The vision in my left eye is called "finger count"... which means that if someone holds their hand in front of my eye about four inches away I can tell how many fingers they're holding up (usually lol). I can also read a very large print (has to be at least an inch tall) and I access the computer using a speech/magnification program.
If I can hold things right up to my eye I can make things out fairly well. Anything further then a few inches from me are blurred and very vague. I can't see what people look like except that I can tell the hair color usually, and usually can tell the colors of their clothing.
Nolte's job as my guide is basically to get me from point A to point B safely. I have to know how to get where I want to go, and give him direction, but he gets me there safely by guiding me around obstacles (people, bikes, garbage cans, etc etc) and avoiding overhangs and barriers. Overhangs could be things like flags hanging off buildings, low awnings, tree branches. Barriers could be a car parked across the sidewalk (where Nolte would have to take me into the street to get around the car), construction horses... anything that blocks the path to the point where Nolte will have to go into the street to clear around it.
He's trained to stop at steps, uneven surfaces (like broken up sidewalks), curbs.
He's also trained to keep me safe in traffic situations. The Seeing Eye trains their dogs to avoid traffic by about four or five feet in front of us... so, say I give Nolte the forward command to cross a street, and we get about two or three feet into the crossing when a car comes around a corner. Nolte will stop me from moving forward when the car is about four or so feet away.
This is different from the way my GEB dogs were trained with traffic, and IMO is much safer. At GEB my dogs were trained to stop when a car got within a few inches of us. That was pretty frightening for me. I'm not sure if that's the way they still train the dogs, but I like that TSE trains their dogs to leave much more room between me and the car.
If there's anything else you'd like to ask, please don't be afraid to give a shout out. I'm more then willing to talk about anything guide dog related, and of course blindness related.
Karen Ann & Kanine Krew