Before heading to The Seeing Eye, I traveled to the west coast for some meetings, which reminded me again of the many reasons I want a guide dog.
There are times that canes are great. For example, for finding landmarks. And its easy to probe to the side to find the third doorway. Or to find the 2nd path cutting across the park to the right. Its also easy to find every parking meter, garbage can, lamp post, store sign board, sidewalk cafe chair, tree, and bicycle on the sidewalk! I had forgotten how many obstructions there were on city walkways. I hadn’t even noticed how many things Whit must have been weaving around.
When using a cane, I also find the people who stop silently upon seeing me approach, as if frozen in the headlights, unsure what to do. Of course, we all laugh after I smack their ankles with my cane and I apologize. For anyone who is approached by someone with a cane, or at least if approached by me: Noise is your friend. If I hear you, I’ll avoid you.
With all the obstructions, and my tendency to veer away from the car noises, it takes me almost twice as long to get where I want as it did with Whit. I thought having a dog meant getting up a little earlier, to have time to feed and relieve him. But I was wrong. If I used a cane for years, I might get faster. Or more bruised. For now, my slow cane-pace comes with an early wake-up call.
Of course, there are some benefits to traveling dog-free. My carry-on is half the weight without 5 days of dog kibble, dog bowls, a dog brush, a toy, and dog relief bags. And the Horizon Airlines (commuter) prop plane seems spacious, with room for me to put my feet on the floor. But I also didn’t have my trusty foot warmer, and the plane was cold at 6am! Nor did I have the friend to say “its all right, don’t stress” when our next plane was cancelled late that night.
Bottom line: I’ll choose the warm nose, and fast pace, of traveling with a guide dog anytime.