Archive for November, 2008

Cultural Differences

November 8, 2008

This blog entry is quite a rant, I’m sorry to say.

So, my apologies out of the way, I’d like to address today’s pet peeve.

i was in the supermarket earlier today, with Bailey, of course. Bailey, my boyfriend and I were walking down an isle when a woman of Pakistani origin, [can’t be certain which area of Asia specifically] but anyway, she left her child in a carrying thing, [not sure what they’re called] and ran away behind my boyfriend and I because of Bailey. We walked around and saw her again and my boyfriend saw her rush to pick up the child and run away again.

Now, it is notoriously known that people of Pakistani and Bangladeshi origin are terrified of dogs. I want to make one thing clear before people start saying I’m racist, I have no problem with anyone living in the UK, whatsoever! I am friends with many people of varying ethnic origins and my grandfather was Polish so I’m not of pure English descent myself. But, what I do not understand, being a person of logical mind and common sense, is how anyone could run away, sometimes screaming from any service dog. Many times I have known of people of the same origin as this lady to run and hide from Bailey. I often ask myself, why? I mean, I’m pretty certain he doesn’t look as though he’s about to tear a leg off or eat their children and yet certain people, because of their culture or religious beliefs, I’m not sure which run away, hide and make a ridiculous, big deal of my guide dog walking by them. I’m sorry, but he has as much right to be in a supermarket/shopping mall/street as anyone. He’s assisting me. Does it not occur to these people who run and scream and overreact that guide dogs association/the government would not allow a dangerous dog to guide a blind person? Do they not realise that by jumping around, screaming like a banshee that Bailey might just think you’re playing with him and get excited, thus making him look boisterous? Do they not consider that by just simply walking by him and ignoring him, they will not cause a reaction? I’d love the answers to my questions. And if anyone could possibly provide them, then please do!

I’m completely tired of seeing people of a certain ethnic origin just running or screaming or making a huge deal of getting away from my dog. I’ve occasionally seen people avoid exiting a doorway that I’m about to enter because of Bailey and it is getting old. I can’t abide it because it is senseless, not to mention illogical! You come to live in a country like the U.K where we worship dogs, bring them into our homes and are generally a dog loving nation. We utilise dogs for many reasons; police dogs, army search dogs, guide dogs, dogs for the disabled and deaf, sheep dogs and four out of that list can be seen in Britain’s streets or any public area. If those people don’t wish to come across a dog, may it be a service dog or merely a pet, can I suggest they don’t venture in any of the places where those dogs are permitted to go. Harsh you may say, but is it nice for my dog to hear people screaming down his ears? I think not! You could suggest I’m being an overprotective guide dog owner, but what would you people do if they started screaming at your children? Acting like they were demons? Something needs to be done in this country. Maybe the citizenship test should not just contain useless questions about things that happened centuries ago. Things that most of the british public don’t know about anyway. Maybe the test should ensure people wishing to live in our country are aware of our customs and beliefs. Teach them about how we use animals to aid our disabled citizens and how we love our dogs and cats instead of informing them that Henry VIII had six wives and how he brutally killed one of them. Or how his son had sickle cell disease. How is that useful to immigrants? Teach them about how well trained guide dogs/dogs for the deaf and disabled are and how well they work when in harness.

In my opinion, their reactions to my guide dog are unfounded. He’s gentle, well trained, and I feed him well enough so he’s not after their flesh. If you choose to live in a country where we try to better our disabled people’s lives by giving them dogs to better their independence, then you have no right to scream at those dogs. They are merely working and doing their duties. So leave our poor dogs to do what they’re good at, provide a priceless service to their owners.

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Bailey’s Tale

November 6, 2008

I am a proud guide dog owner and have been for the last two and a half years. He’s a cheeky little pup and often likes to get his own way. He’s a likeable dog and works hard when he puts his little blonde head down. I’m often out and about with Bailey, that’s his name, and tend to be out for hours at a time on occasion. This can present problems as Bailey has needs like you and I. He needs to go to the toilet and if it is warm, needs to have a drink.

A few weeks ago when I was out shopping with my boyfriend and Bailey, we decided to stop and have a bite to eat and drink. We went to the food court in my local shopping mall and I sat down with Bailey and the shopping bags while my boyfriend went to buy food. I asked him to get water for Bailey and upon his return, he informed me that he had to buy a bottle of water. I was very confused by this and I asked my boyfriend if they expected Bailey to drink the water out of the bottle? he returned to the vendor and they gave him a cup for Bailey to drink out of.

I want to make one thing clear, I do not object buying my dog anything. If you ask anyone I know, I would spend my last penny on Bailey but it was the sheer principle of the matter. The vendor had refused to give water to a thirsty service dog who walks his paws off every day to help a visually impaired person.

Upon leaving the food court, I visited the information desk to inquire how I would go about complaining. I informed them of what had just happened to me and Bailey and they informed me that this was actually discrimination. I suspected that if asked that anyone is required to give free water where possible as it is a duty of care to the individual. The fact that we were forced to purchase a bottle of water discouraged me greatly at the society we live in. Has it come to the point where water is no longer a free, flowing element? Did I miss the day that we were paying the equivalent of oil prices for barrels of water or is this just some greedy, multimillionaire trying to profit on our needs? I reported this incident to guide dogs and haven’t heard anything back as yet. But how is it fair that a service dog who just wanted a little water was turned into a paying statistic by a company that is internationally wealthy and clearly did not need the 90P that was profited from the water.

If that had been an old lady needing a glass of water? Would anyone have questioned it? And not just gone running to the nearest tap to pour her a glass of water? Dogs need sustenance as we humans do and although I am a very animal loving person, in my humble opinion a service dog is in a food court for one reason, and one reason alone. He is working and guiding the owner that dog has been given too because without that four legged friend, that visually impaired person would have a severe lack of independence and confidence. I know how much Bailey has improved my life in the two and a half years I’ve owned him and I don’t know many guide dog owners that don’t feel the same.

I have often been into various restaurants/fast food places/coffee shops of varying powers and financial excellence and only once before have I encountered this same level of discrimination for my dog. That, as this incidence did, occurred in a international/multimillionaire company that does not need a measly 90P for a bottle of water that they could easily get from a tap. Neither company refused giving me something to put the water in for free, so then why charge me 90P or more for a half litre bottle of water that he would only drink a portion of?

It’s a senseless act of discrimination and one to which I personally hope no other guide dog owner has to suffer. I know that if anyone else refuses to give Bailey water, I will write to the news papers and not just on my blog.

Give all the furry friends a glass of water!