Probably the best known assistance dog is the guide dog. We’ve all seen a Lab (or Golden Retriever or German Shepherd) wearing the special harness while carefully guiding their blind owner across the street or down the sidewalk. Here are three interesting facts about guide dogs you might not know:
- A guide dog can’t read traffic signals. He takes directional cues from his owner, who judges traffic by sounds. However, if it’s not safe to go when the owner says “forward,” the guide dog has been taught what’s called intelligent disobedience and won’t proceed until no cars are close or the path is clear of obstacles.
- You may know not to pet a working guide dog, but do you know why? Your well-meant cuddle isn’t a simple distraction, it’s the equivalent of taking the wheel from someone who’s driving. One of the biggest challenges guide dog owners face is public interference. So no matter how adorable that pooch is, resist the urge to touch.
- Guide dogs are carefully matched with their new owners. In addition to personality, lifestyle, and living arrangement considerations, the pair is matched down to how fast they walk and how much pull the person prefers from a dog.