Interacting with Christine’s Guide Dog
One of our members, Christine Hall, has a guide dog named Tessa. Christine has asked us to make the letter below available to sangha members. It is from the Seeing Eye in New Jersey, where Christine got Tessa and trained with her. The letter gives some simple information about how those who will interact with Christine and Tessa can help them maintain a successful partnership.
Christine says it is important that people not pet or talk to a guide dog when the dog is working, that is, when the dog is wearing a harness. When Tessa is not wearing her work harness, it’s fine to talk or pet or play with her.
September 8, 2010
The Seeing Eye
P.O. Box 375
Morristown, New Jersey 07963-0375
Re. Ms. Christine Hall
All of us at the Seeing Eye are pleased to tell you that Ms. Christine Hall is in our present class of students and will soon return home with her new Seeing Eye dog.
We are writing to you because you play a significant role in the success of the new working partnership. We cannot emphasize to you enough the importance of the first few weeks at home in the development of the relationship between them. In that time, the success of the two as a working team will be determined. Good teamwork develops when the owner follows three rules in dog handling: consistency, praise when earned, and correction when necessary.
Family, friends, and co-workers can help by observing a few simple rules of their own:
- When owner and dog arrive, greet them in a relaxed manner. Do not rush up to them.
- Avoid inviting family and friends over to meet the dog during the first few days. Give the dog a chance to adjust to its new surroundings gradually.
- Let the dog make the first advance to greet you. Don’t stare at the dog; it’s unnerving.
- Never follow the team when it is working. The dog will recognize you and look back at you rather than paying attention to its work. This is a serious distraction and will prevent the team from working safely and effectively.
- The owner should insist upon good manners in the home — this means, for example, no tidbits at the table at mealtime, no barking at the doorbell, no lying on the furniture.
- The owner has been taught to correct the dog by using the leash. A leash correction does not hurt the dog; coupled with affection, it results in efficient guide work and good behavior.
- The owner has learned how to groom and care for the dog completely. It is the owner’s responsibility to feed, groom, and take the dog out 3 or 4 times a day to meet its needs.
- A Seeing Eye dog is not a pet, but the family need not ignore it. The important thing to remember is that the greatest amount of affection and care must come from its owner.
- Even though the owner has a previous dog, a new dog means a new relationship. The owner needs to help the dog adjust to new working conditions away from The Seeing Eye and the instructor. Each dog has a unique personality and will be quite different from its owner’s previous dog.
We hope that this information will help you become more familiar with The Seeing Eye program and more confident in your role of helping to strengthen a wonderful working partnership.
David H. Johnson
Director of Instruction and Training
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