I’m often asked what’s it like to have a guide dog. I often steal a line from the great philosopher Keanu Reeves in Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure when I say, “It’s totally awesome, dude!”
It’s hard to believe that my guide dog, Nash, and I are coming up on our fifth anniversary. The traditional anniversary gift is jewelry, but since I don’t wear jewelry and Nash embraces the nudist lifestyle, those wanting to send us a gift can just send cash.
Why is it so awesome to have a guide dog when you’re blind? I couldn’t explain all the reasons in 140 characters, so sit back, relax, and enjoy the list below.
You would think with all the technology out there, someone could have come up with a better way for a blind person to get around than a cane. Oh wait, they did — it’s called a dog.
For 10 years before Nash, I walked with a cane. You would be amazed even with swiping a cane right to left and walking the streets of New York City how much stuff my cane would miss that was directly in front of me. My favorites were lamp posts and those big metal grates that restaurants keep open in front of them. Fortunately, I never fell into one of the grates, but I did walk in to my fair share of parking meters.
Since Nash and I have been partnered, walking into those things never occurs anymore, and I don’t even think about it.
The great unknown is whether Nash, who is a Labrador Retriever, would ever attack someone who attacks me. I hope to keep that an unknown. It’s just better to not know some things in life. However, Nash does provide me with a feeling of security when I walk down a New York City street.
Prior to Nash, every time I left the house I had a lot of insecurity and had to think about every little thing and scenario that could happen. Now with my trusty guide, I just throw on a pair of sunglasses and don’t worry about where the day will be taking us. I also like to think that someone who is going to attack someone is less likely to attack a person walking with a 75-pound dog next to him.
People often offer to find me an elevator, and I don’t know why they are always so surprised when I tell them stairs are fine. Yes, Nash would rather take the stairs. Now don’t get me wrong, that doesn’t mean that I’m looking to move in to a fifth-floor walkup, but he does love him some stairs.
Being blind has caused me to become a bit of a recluse. If it wasn’t for my guide dog, I might have become Howard Hughes and not leave the house for months. Thanks to Nash we get outside several times a day, as I have yet to figure out how to potty train the guy.
If only Nash could learn how to cook healthy food, I could be living the complete healthy lifestyle.
Many dogs are up at the crack of dawn. Luckily for me, I don’t ever have to get up that early. Amazingly, Nash will let me sleep as late as I want, but when my alarm goes off, and on those cold mornings when I can’t seem to stop hitting the snooze button, there’s Nash with a little groan or two to let me know, “Hey, bud, you might not have to get up, but I’m hungry over here, and want to get outside to pee.” So at least one of us is on a schedule.
Nash does not get fed from the table. He doesn’t even get a lot of human food. Don’t fret — there are plenty of doggy treats, and he sure does love his lamb and rice.
I eat in front of the T.V., one advantage of being a single guy with no kids. Our nightly routine has become pretty comical. I eat dinner as Nash snoozes in the bedroom, but as soon as I get up to take the dish to the kitchen, Nash shakes himself awake and darts into the living room to make sure the blind guy didn’t drop any food. He is such a neat freak that he will even move the little ottoman I eat on to check behind it for crumbs and morsels.
I think it’s so great that Nash wants to make sure I don’t leave any food behind so we don’t get any ants. He’s thoughtful like that. Now, if only Nash could help me lower my cholesterol.
I am a big sports fan — the Yankees for baseball, and the Florida Gators for college football. They’re my church and temple, and like many sports fans, I’m guilty of yelling at my teams on TV when they play poorly. It sure is cathartic — or at least I thought it was.
Nash doesn’t like yelling of any kind. When I do yell, he will get in my face as if to ask what is wrong. He doesn’t understand that it’s just me being an idiot.
After the first few times of me yelling at the Yankees and Nash getting in my face, I realized okay, I don’t want to worry him, so I better stop yelling at something as meaningless as a sporting event on TV. And yup, I can confirm that you yelling at your team on TV will not affect its performance in any way.
I remember the first night I allowed Nash to come up in to my bed. It’s easy to remember because ever since then, my bed has become his bed. He’s in it morning, noon, and night, and I love it.
He warms up my bed for me, which is great, especially this winter. He also makes a very fluffy pillow. Yes, Nash lets me rest my head on him, but more often than not, he will use me as a pillow.
Since my bed isn’t big enough for the two of us to comfortably enjoy, Nash eventually goes down to his bed, as we both like to spread out. Unfortunately, I am at the age where you wake up in the middle of the night to go the bathroom, and sometimes I am half asleep when I go to collapse back on to the bed into dreamland.
The problem is in those few seconds I’m gone, Nash wakes up, sees an empty bed, and figures it’s all his, so when I do fall back into bed I land on him. Poor fella. Life’s definitely not fair.
I don’t care if you have been married for 50 years to your high school sweetheart. It’s still not the same as having a guide dog!
When I go to work, Nash is with me. When I run out to grab a quick bite, Nash is with me. When I meet a friend, Nash is with me. When I go to a show, Nash is with me. When I travel anywhere, Nash is with me. When I am out in a public and have to use the restroom, Nash is with me. When I go to the doctor, Nash is with me. When I go to the store, Nash is with me. Top that for commitment and quality time! It’s impossible to be a loner when you have a guide dog.
When I walked with a cane, people went out of their way to avoid me. I’m not sure why, but the day I came home with a guide dog, everyone wanted to talk to me.
It amazes me how many women come up to me and want to meet Nash, and my blind female friends with guide dogs tell me it works both ways, as their dogs are total dude magnets.
Moral of the story: As long as I have my awesome guide dog then I still have a shot at charming Jennifer Aniston. Or at least Nash does — he’s the chick magnet!
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About the author: Brian Fischler is a standup comedian and writer. He has been seen on The Today Show, published in Maxim Magazine as the Comedian of the Month, and on Top Gear USA on The History Channel. Brian also writes for Cesar Milan’s website and Magazine. Brian runs Laugh For Sight, a bicoastal comedy benefit that features the biggest names in comedy who come together to raise money and awareness for retinal degenerative eye disease research. You can connect with Brian on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.