Feature Writer Alena Roberts – Deciding When to Take Your Guide Dog With You

As you’re reading this, I’m likely either on a ride or waiting in line at the new Harry Potter theme park in Orlando. I’m here on vacation, but my guide dog Midge is not with me. I decided that it was best for both me and her that she stay home, even though she would be welcome at the theme park. With that in mind, I decided to write about how guide dog users decide when and when not to bring their guides with them. Obviously, every user will be different, but I think it’s important that as guide dog users, we remember that our dog’s feelings about the places we take them do need to be taken into consideration.

In the almost 6 years that I’ve had Midge, I’ve only left her for multiple days three times. On each occasion, she has been left with someone I trust and someone she trusts and knows. Here are the things I consider when deciding to leave my guide for an extended period of time.

Will I be going somewhere where I plan to use my guide, or will I primarily use a sighted guide instead?

Is the place I’m going likely to have other dogs there? (this is important for dogs that are easily distracted)

Is the place I’m going likely to be crowded?

Will bringing my guide hinder my ability to have the freedom to have fun?

Is the place I’m going friendly to dogs?

Will the place I’m going have good relieving areas?

Although I try to take my guide as many places as possible, I know that she and I wouldn’t be happy if I took her everywhere. As much as I dislike using a cane, I would rather use a cane than feel like I was putting my dog in an uncomfortable situation. I also believe that just like with children, sometimes we guide dog parents need a break.

What are your feelings about leaving a guide dog for an extended period of time? What do you consider when deciding if leaving your guide is the right decision?

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