Every man’s seeing eye dog
I know I run the risk of generalising today, but I will take that risk to illustrate a point.
I have been taking public transport for many years – since I was a student in fact, nearly 14 years just about. And I have observed a fair share of the blind (or visually impaired, for the politically correct) on trains, train stations, at bus stations. And I know, yes, they are just people too, sometimes they have a bad day or they have their little vices and gnawing flaws in their personalities, just like those who can see. But again today, not for the first, or the 10th, time, I notice how hard they are on their dogs.
It seems to my thinking mind that, if my life depended so much on this dog, a dog who was specially chosen and diligently tested as a pup and went through intense training to become a service dog and would never have been assigned a blind person unless they were reliable to fulfil their jobs 100% of the time, that they have earned some kind of special appreciation… This is a dog who is trained to be alert, but well-adjusted and not seeking attention or reacting to the smallest things in the environment all the time, but does that mean they need that affection and love any less than the dog who bounces up and down and curls up close to you for attention? It nearly broke me when I saw a dog like this, not abused, just treated with less gentleness than I would expect from his blind person, curl up under the seat on the train next to his master on top of the feet of a stranger. This particular dog, I have never heard his master say a kind word to her, or touch her tenderly or show her any love. This is a person who depends on this dog to stay alive, to do basic things that we take for granted, and yet, he has so little compassion for his GUIDE DOG.
And I wondered today, how similar are we not towards those that guide us, that crack open our hearts and our worlds to let the light in. Insensitive, judgemental, quick with criticism. I am working hard to not do that with anyone, because who knows who my teacher is is any given everyday situation, but I have been on the receiving end of that lack of understanding more times than I can count. Sometimes I can just shrug it off, but (I guess it depends on who it is) other times it pains me like a blow that unbalances you and knocks you quite off the zen pillar (or maybe stepping stones is a better visual analogy). Those souls that help us on our path, that show us we don’t have a monopoly on the right way or true way to do or approach anything, are people we should value like an anchor that keeps a boat from being towed away by a wreckless current. Like a life jacket that keeps you from sinking even if you are unconscious. But how callous are we sometimes, when we should be kind? How blind when we should be letting them fill our awareness and let kindness, compassion and love be our watchword? Especially when we consider what they must have gone through to be who they are today…? I don’t know how we will ever learn this lesson if even a blind man treats his dog like just a tool. And I know that he can never look into those soulful eyes and see the perfect love and patience in them and that makes me even sadder, but that should never detract from the service or the guidance they give without thought to themselves. Dogs are like that, but we humans…? *sigh*
I try to act out of who I am and not how I might feel in any given moment, and sometimes that must mean stepping back quietly and waiting to see what happens. We must accept what we cannot change because raging against circumstances will only let it consume you and bring you more of what you don’t want, but we must strive with all we are for what we can change and the world we hope to encourage into being through thoughtful action, our words and our mindset from day to day even in the ordinary things. Even more so in the big things – the love and kindness we share, the great love we pursue, our dreams and hopes, our quest for balance in all things… And never, ever take our guardians, the seeing eye / service dogs in our lives, for granted.