For people with visual impairments, a guide dog can provide wonderful companionship and invaluable help in getting around.
That’s because guide dogs are exceptionally well trained before they are ever assigned to work for a human, with total training time averaging 18 months.
The standard required for guide dog duty is so demanding that half of all dogs who begin training fail to complete it.
Many public places display signs to the effect of ‘No dogs allowed, except guide dogs’ and most buildings will accept guide dogs when it is clear that they are on duty with a visually impaired human.
There are exceptions to this, though, most notably zoos and specific hospital areas such as burns units and intensive care wards.
It can happen, too, that other public buildings forbid guide dogs, although such instances are rare. People will generally realize the importance of the guide dog’s work and let them get on with it unless the dog gives trouble.
If you own a guide dog, you are entitled to expect that people behave respectfully around it.
Guide dogs should never be distracted when they are with their handler and, even if the dog is off duty, people should at least ask the handler’s permission before attempting to pat it.
Likewise, people might want to chat with the handler about their guide dog, but if the handler does not have time, they should be left alone, no matter how genuine the intentions of others may be.
In this infographic from Clippers Ireland (http://www.clippersireland.ie/), you can find out more about the essentials of owning a guide dog. Have a read below.