Thought Wheel

Ann Chiappetta

A Mixed Doggie Bag

| Filed under blindness Guide dogs Poem writing Writing Life

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged about being out in public with a guide dog. After writing my book , I have to fill up the repertoire, having used most of the material for Follow Your Dog a Story of Love and Trust and in 2016, following the release of Upwelling: Poems. Not sure about other book writers but I felt quite depleted after publishing each book. I did not write much and found I wanted to read more, write less. I honored this urge and have read about five books since releasing Follow Your Dog in October. But I digress.
Onto the dog story …

It was a mixed bag last week, and I will try to show you why in this post.
I was scheduled for a routine ultrasound test. Bailey and I find the door to the waiting room, and I poke my head and ask if this is the right place. The building does not have braille or raised print on any of the doors so I have to ask. A few folks say yes and we enter. I step inside and hear, “She’s got a dog, I’m scared of dogs,” and then I hear, “She’s not coming in here, is she?”

A quick wave of anxiety rises, then I tell it to go away, that I should not be intimidated by what this person says. I should be used to it by now, but after almost ten years of working a guide dog, it still triggers some anxiety.

I ask where the counter is and direct Bailey forward, he stops. I determine there is not enough room for both of us to walk between the chairs, so I begin to shuffle past the patients sitting there, tucking in their feet to let us pass.

I tell Bailey to lay down while I fill out and sign paperwork and hear the same person say, “They shouldn’t let dogs in these places, people have allergies, you know,”. Thankfully no one responds.
To make matters worse, the receptionist treats me like I am a plague victim. She barely touches my hand to help me get to the line to sign my name. I ask her to direct me to a place so my dog won’t be stepped on, as I notice the chairs are very close together. She misdirects me twice, and tries to push me over to the chair instead. I lose my patience, saying, “The chair is not in front of me, the chair is to my right,” She retreats behind the counter, and I can feel her relief of not having to help me anymore.
as it happens, the safest place for Bailey to lie down is the farthest from the radiology room door. I have to walk back around the entire line of people to get to the technician when my name is called. Thankfully, she is helpful and actually loves dogs, allowing Bailey to lie wherever he feels comfortable once I am settled.

I end up waiting after the test for the return trip and pass the time in the waiting area. Bailey takes me back to our chair. Before leaving, I risk a trip to the bathroom. I direct Bailey and because the room is so full, I can tell where the turn to the bathroom is and trail my hand on the wall to keep oriented. Unfortunately, I don’t know that there is a line of chairs against the wall leading to the bathroom door and almost pass my hand across the face of a man sitting there; I apologize as soon as I realize what my fingers touched and urge Bailey on to the bathroom. The reluctant receptionist appears as if by magic, saying, “The bathroom is really small, I don’t think you will fit.” She tries to block me but I just smile and say I think we can fit. I let Bailey go in first, and I go in, then she helps me close the door, as if I am unable to figure it out for myself. I exit the bathroom without incident, Giving Bailey the command to the outer door and we are clear of an uneventful test and I sigh with relief that we have survived that receptionist. Yuck.

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